Cubs’ Tony Campana: The belle of the ball
By GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org March 3, 2012 7:52PM
Updated: April 5, 2012 8:25AM
MESA, Ariz. — A year ago, Tony Campana wasn’t even invited to big-league camp with the Cubs. His career has taken off so fast since then that this year, he’s already been invited to prom — at least twice.
If you didn’t already believe that Campana, the fastest player in camp, had unseated Reed Johnson as the Cubs’ top cult figure, just check out his fan mail.
‘‘I see some pretty good stuff in there,’’ Campana said. ‘‘I got a letter here the other day and opened it up, and it was a girl asking me to the prom. I’ve got a couple of those.’’
He’s not sure he can make it, though.
‘‘Well, it’s in May,’’ he said, ‘‘so that kind of makes it a little tough for me. Hopefully, I’m going to be in the middle of playing. . .. But if it’s an off day. . . . Maybe I’ll write here back and ask her when the exact date is.’’
Yeah, life is good for Campana, who in one year has gone from little-known prospect to Cubs secret weapon — a guy who was in the minors until mid-May before going 24-for-26 to lead the Cubs in steals and top the majors in stolen-base percentage.
Not that he’s taking anything for granted, even if his speed-and-defense style seems to fit perfectly into the team concept new manager Dale Sveum is emphasizing in camp.
‘‘I don’t look at myself as established yet or anything,’’ said Campana, who looks like a fifth outfielder for the team at this point. ‘‘I think just coming in at least knowing everybody makes you feel a little bit more comfortable.’’
Just in a pair of intrasquad games, Campana has showed off his skills — 3-for-3 with a steal Friday and reaching on a drag bunt, then stealing second on Saturday.
That’s the kind of hard play — to go with a breakneck style in the field — that has fans filling his mailbag to rave.
‘‘It’s pretty cool that everybody kind of gets behind me a little bit, I guess, and I get a lot of support,’’ Campana said. ‘‘It’s awesome. . .. You couldn’t have a bigger compliment than that, just people telling you they like how you play.’’
Unless they’re inviting you to prom.