Cubs believe David DeJesus will be more than trivia
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com April 2, 2012 9:10PM
Cubs manager Dale Sveum believes a correction in David DeJesus’ hitting mechanics could have ‘‘a huge impact.’’ | Marcio Jose Sanchez~AP
Updated: May 4, 2012 8:12AM
MESA, Ariz. — Mike Timlin, Bill Mueller, David Ortiz and Kevin Millar became legendary in Boston after Theo Epstein acquired them during his first offseason as the Red Sox’ boy-wonder general manager nine years ago.
All were key parts of the historic World Series championship that followed in Epstein’s second season.
Cubs right fielder David DeJesus is well aware of that history, well aware that if something big happens on the North Side in the next few years, he might be remembered as the first player Epstein signed with the Cubs.
‘‘It’s an honor,’’ said DeJesus, 32, a career .284 hitter looking for a big bounce-back season after a serious thumb injury that cost him the final two months of 2010 and hampered him much of last season.
‘‘When someone of his stature, who won two World Series, makes you the first guy he brings in [under] his whole new regime, it’s an honor and a blessing.’’
But the Cubs are counting on getting more than a trivia answer out of the lefty-hitting leadoff man.
‘‘They know what they’re doing,’’ DeJesus said of Epstein and his inner-circle staff. ‘‘They know how to put winning ball teams together. For me to be a piece of that, I just want to go out there and play the game the right way, give my all, go out there with this ‘C’ on my chest, I want to just play consistent.’’
It starts Thursday, when he’s expected to take the first swing — against the Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg — at setting a tone offensively in the latest new era for Cubs baseball.
‘‘It’s pretty cool, especially being from there,’’ said DeJesus, a native New Yorker who has made Wheaton his adopted hometown through his wife, Kim. ‘‘My mom and dad are flying out. My wife’s parents will be there. My son will be there. It’s going to be a really cool Opening Day.’’
Especially if the simple problem with his mechanics that he and hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo identified in the last week turns his .207 spring batting average — and .240 season in 2011 — on its head.
‘‘It could actually be a huge impact,’’ said manager Dale Sveum, who’s keeping the mysterious solution in-house. ‘‘Sometimes it’s a process for people, sometimes you look too deep into things, especially veteran players in spring training. It’s just a wait-and-see-what-happens during the season.’’
DeJesus, an eight-year veteran, said it has to do with ‘‘timing.’’ He also said it’s coming around, as evidenced by a two-hit game Sunday that included a line drive to right and a drag bunt for a hit. DeJesus expected to be in the lineup Tuesday for a final tuneup before the opener Thursday.
What’s certain is that the injury to his bottom hand — what he called ‘‘Tommy John of the thumb’’ — hasn’t bothered him at all this spring after occasionally biting at him last year and messing with his swing and his mind.
‘‘But right now I haven’t even had a thought in my brain about it,’’ he said.
He’s getting to the point where he might even say that about his spring.
‘‘Once the season comes around, those are the games that matter, and time to go,’’ he said, ‘‘and I feel that I’m on the right path.’’