Chicago Cubs would love to see DH in NL
The good news for the Cubs is that they open the regular season in Anaheim, against the American League's Los Angeles Angels.
Right off the bat, so to speak, they will be able to use the designated hitter, most likely Kyle Schwarber.
But that will be it for the DH until late July, when the Cubs play the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
Cubs president Theo Epstein would love for the National League to adopt the DH, but since that's unlikely to happen in the near future, Epstein and Co. will just have to deal with it.
Field manager Joe Maddon says he prefers NL-style ball anyway, and the hallmark of any Maddon team is versatility off the bench. In fact, Maddon's starters have been known to switch positions, sometimes more than once, during games.
Since there are no true battles for starting jobs on the Cubs, it's pretty clear who the bench players will be.
Tommy La Stella can back up at second base and third base. The Cubs had hoped he would be a big contributor last year after acquiring him in a trade with Atlanta, but a rib-cage injury limited him to just 33 regular-season games.
Javier Baez is a natural shortstop, but the Cubs have a pretty good one at the position in Addison Russell. Baez can play all over the infield, and the Cubs gave him an outfielder's glove this off-season and had him begin working in center field during winter ball.
The backup catcher to Miguel Montero is David Ross, who figures to work most, if not all, of lefty Jon Lester's starts. Ross' is revered in the clubhouse for his leadership, and the Cubs' brass likes his handling of pitchers.
Speaking of catchers, Schwarber is listed as third on the depth chart. That's a luxury on big-league rosters today, but Schwarber will see most of his time in left field, sharing playing time with Jorge Soler, who has been displaced in right because of the arrival of free agent Jason Heyward.
There are some things to watch with the backup outfield spots. The Cubs have brought veteran Shane Victorino to spring training as a nonroster man. The 35-year-old Victorino has played in 1,299 big-league games, and he's a four-time Gold Glove winner. He played in 71 games between the Red Sox and Angels last year.
The Cubs brought back old friend Matt Murton, who played for them in the last decade before going on to success in Japan. An appendectomy in the early days of spring training set Murton back in his bid to make the team on a minor-league deal.
Matt Szczur has been in the organization since 2010, and he's out of minor-league options. If the speedy and athletic Szczur could ever get enough playing time, he could turn into a player along the lines of Reed Johnson, who had a couple of tours of duty with the Cubs.
Chris Denorfia led the Cubs in pinch hits, with 11 last year, but he has moved on.