South Side product Brian Bogusevic looking to land job with Cubs
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org March 5, 2013 10:45PM
Chicago Cubs v Los Angeles Dodgers
Updated: March 5, 2013 10:48PM
MESA, Ariz. — South Sider Brian Bogusevic is way past the whole Cubs-Sox thing. At 29, he’s just looking for a job.
‘‘All that stuff stopped a long time ago,’’ said Bogusevic, who grew up in Oak Lawn and graduated from De La Salle. ‘‘I grew up a Sox fan just from where I lived. Shoot, I graduated from high school 10 years ago.’’
A 2005 first-round draft pick as a pitcher out of Tulane (24th overall by the Astros), the left-handed-hitting Bogusevic is competing for an outfield spot with the Cubs as a non-roster player and has quickly made an impression. In nine spring-training games, Bogusevic is hitting .444 (8-for-18) with three doubles, a triple and a home run.
‘‘He’s been the Joe Mather of camp,’’ Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Tuesday, referring to the fringe outfielder who parlayed a quick start in spring training last season into a roster spot. ‘‘The at-bats he’s putting together, the at-bats against left-handed pitching . . . he’s the leader in camp right now. I’ve been impressed.’’
As a scholarship player at Tulane and a first-round pick with the Astros, Bogusevic never lacked opportunity. But as a non-roster invitee to spring training, it’s all about getting a chance. And Bogusevic’s early hitting spree has convinced Sveum to give him every chance to make the team. Bogusevic started at first base Tuesday against the Rockies in Scottsdale.
‘‘I know he can play the outfield, but I’m going to give him as much time as I can at first base, where he’s not super comfortable,’’ Sveum said.
A scholar-athlete at De La Salle, the 6-3, 220-pound Bogusevic also has been around long enough to not get too excited over a hot start. It’s still early.
‘‘You have to [keep] it in perspective,’’ Bogusevic said. ‘‘It’s nice. It’s better than the alternative. But it’s just the first 20 at-bats of spring training. It doesn’t mean anything.’’
Even though he’s 29, Bogusevic is still growing and learning as a hitter. He was drafted as a pitcher after helping Tulane reach the College World Series in 2005. But after struggling with injuries and inconsistency in three minor-league seasons as a pitcher, the Astros switched him to the outfield in July 2008.
He made the big leagues as a September call-up in 2010 and was up and down with the Astros in 2011 — probably remembered best by Cubs fans for hitting a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam off Carlos Marmol in August.
Bogusevic won the starting right-field job with the Astros last season. But he hit .203 with seven homers and 28 RBI for the 56-106 Astros and was released after the season.
Bogusevic appears to be battling Dave Sappelt and Darnell McDonald for the last outfield spot on the roster. If he can handle first base, he has more options.
But there’s a long way to go. After reaching base five times in six plate appearances over the weekend (a walk, a single, two doubles, a triple and a home run), Bogusevic was hitting .615 Sunday. He’s 0-for-5 since, though two of the outs were hard-hit balls, including ‘‘a missile that the pitcher made a great play on,’’ Sveum said.
Bogusevic lives in Houston but still considers himself a Chicago guy. He’s marrying a Houston girl in November, but at the Palmer House. Between then and now, he’s hoping to spend a lot of time in Chicago.
That’s one reason why he signed with the Cubs.
‘‘There were opportunities to make the team, and it’s a growing organization,’’ Bogusevic said. ‘‘And the whole hometown thing. If things work out well, it would be a good personal situation to be in. If I happen to be in Chicago, that would be great.’’
ROCKIES 6, CUBS 3
STYMIED BY FRANCIS: Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis shut down the Cubs on Tuesday at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale. He allowed one hit in four innings and retired 12 of 13 batters. The Cubs’ only hit was a soft single to right by left-handed-hitting pitcher Scott Feldman, who had played the previous eight seasons in the American League with the Rangers. Center fielder Dave Sappelt and second baseman Darwin Barney opened the game with warning-track drives to left, but those were the hardest-hit balls against Francis, who has not allowed a run in nine innings this spring.
MAYSONET HOMERS: Edwin Maysonet turned a drive off the wall into an inside-the-park homer off Rockies reliever Daniel Rosenbaum when the ball caromed past outfielders Dexter Fowler and Tim Wheeler. It was Maysonet’s first home run of the spring. His last home run in the regular season was a three-run blast for the Brewers off the Cubs’ Chris Volstad in a 6-1 Brewers victory last May. Maysonet is 3-for-16 (.188) in the early going.
WOOD LOOKS GOOD: Left-hander Travis Wood, slated for the starting rotation, relieved Feldman in the third inning and allowed one run and three hits with no walks and two strikeouts in three innings.
NELSON HOMERS AGAIN: Career minor-leaguer Brad Nelson, a non-roster first-baseman/outfielder, continued to make an impression with a pinch-hit home run off ex-Cub Manny Corpas in the ninth inning. Nelson is hitting .333 (6-for-18) with two homers and five RBI.
UP NEXT: vs. Rangers, 2:05 Wednesday at Surprise, Ariz.