If you had asked me at the end of last season if Blake DeWitt would be a Cub on Opening Day, I would have given him less than a 50% chance. If you’d asked again in early February, after he’d been dropped from the 40-man roster in order to claim Adrian Cardenas (Who? Exactly.) off waivers from Oakland, I would have dropped those odds to less than 10%.
But here we are two days away from the start of the season (two days!), and Blake DeWitt has secured himself a spot on the bench for Opening Day.
How’d he do it?
It might be partly due to the unspectacular .276/.382/.379 he put up in limited playing time this summer. While those numbers don’t pop off the screen, it appears he’s shown enough to Dale to be awarded the title of “professional hitter.” And while I haven’t watched enough Spring Training to evaluate it for myself, he’s apparently developed a reputation for quality at-bats and advancing runners (I’m skeptical).
It also might be partly due to his versatility in the field. He’s always been a relatively decent option at third and second, and–although, again, I haven’t seen it myself–it seems he’s put in the time and work to become less of an embarrassment in the outfield (bigtime skeptical). However, with the return of Reed Johnson and the emergence of Joe Mather, DeWitt is at best the third or fourth option for backup work in the outfield. So let’s just go ahead and assume his OF glove will have a nice, thick layer of dust on it before it ever picks up any grass stains.
Personally, I think DeWitt won himself a bench spot by exhibiting a cockroach-like tenacity–he simply refused to die. Even if he was assured the Cubs still wanted him after he’d been DFA’d, he had no guarantees he’d have a job coming out of the spring. How many of you would have stayed with a team offering no promises and using your roster spot to pick iffy prospects off the garbage heap? To his credit, he stuck it out and proved what he needed to to Dale, Theo, and Jed.
And let’s be honest–he probably didn’t really have to prove much. If I had my druthers, I would be writing about Bobby Scales today. But aside from the journeyman Scales, the borderline prospect Cardenas, and also-rans like Alfredo Amezaga, there wasn’t a ton of competition for the utility infielder roles. DeWitt, Jeff Baker, and even Opening Day starter Ian Stewart are on this team at least in part because the other options were worse. I think we can safely assume it will be a slap fight between the three of them for playing time this season.
And while I know it won’t be pretty, I’m inclined to give DeWitt some slight credit for defying the odds by outlasting and outplaying my expectations.