The Cubs want to get Jake Fox’s bat in the lineup, so the rookie was penciled in to start at third base for Friday’s series opener against the Cleveland Indians.
“The young man swings the bat,” Lou Piniella said. “We’ve got to find a place for him. We’re going to put him at third base against left-handed pitching and see what he does.
“He deserves a chance to play somewhere,” Piniella said. “He’s swung the bat as well as or better than anybody in our organization, top to bottom. He’s been getting work over there. We’ll give him a chance and see how it goes.”
Fox has definitely been working at third with coaches Alan Trammell and Ivan DeJesus.
“I don’t have a lot of experience there but I’m pretty excited because it’s a new place for me,” Fox said. “I don’t think it’s any different than anywhere else — catch the ball and throw it where it needs to go.”
Third is really the only opening in the lineup until Aramis Ramirez returns.
“It’s been like tryouts every day,” Fox said of his workouts. “‘Tram’ and Ivan have had me out there at least an hour, hour and a half, taking ground balls, getting every look you can possibly see. I’ve been improving a lot. I’m not where I need to be, but I think I’m where I need to be in order to play and hopefully bring another at-bat in the lineup.”
Fox was leading the Pacific Coast League in home runs, average and RBIs, and was hitting .357 so far for the Cubs. He did make one start and that was in right field. When the Cubs play in American League ballparks for Interleague games next week, Fox and Micah Hoffpauir should get more at-bats, either as the designated hitter or in the field.
“I think both of them deserve an opportunity,” Piniella said. “I originally thought we could use the DH spot to rest a regular or two from time to time. We might be able to do that.”
Which means Fox or Hoffpauir could start at first base to give Derrek Lee a break, or one of them could be in the outfield to give Milton Bradley a rest.
Fox was happy to see his name in the lineup.
“I’ve been hoping to get a chance to get in there to play and they told me yesterday after the game I’d be in there,” Fox said. “Hopefully, I can put together a few good at-bats and play solid defense and we’ll see what happens.”
He has had success with hitting coach Von Joshua, who was at Iowa with Fox this season.
“He’s very laid back,” Fox said. “He always has a smile on his face. He preaches, ‘Keep your approach, look for that first pitch you can drive and drive it.’ You don’t have to over-think it, you don’t have to over-analyze it. Just put your best swing on the pitch and hope for the best.”
— Carrie Muskat