On ex-Cubs, near-sighted pitchers and prospects

Written By Sun-Times Wire Posted: 03/04/2010, 07:19pm

Jake Fox might have found a home that fits with the Oakland A’s – even if third base still doesn’t look quite the perfect fit on him.

The popular Fox, a big hitter with a questionable defensive resume, was traded to Oakland in early December and has found a much greater opportunity to earn playing time.

He started at third for Oakland in its game against the Cubs Thursday, batting cleanup and going 0 for 2 with a throwing error. He’ll get looks at first, DH and a little at catcher.

“It’ll be little bit of a merry-go-round,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting. It’s really going to be interesting to see what happens.”

Fox holds no hard feelings for the Cubs, who probably did him a favor by trading him this winter to an American League team.

“It’s probably best for both of us,” Fox said. “That’s one thing that [he and GM Jim Hendry] talked about when he sent me over. He said, `Look, you were valuable for me. But at the same time, you need to go somewhere where you can be an everyday player.’ I’m going to get that opportunity here, and as a player, that’s all you can ask for. Hopefully, I’ll be able to take advantage of it.”

Playing five different defensive positions last season, Fox hit .259 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs in 216 at-bats last year.

“I think that was one of their big appeals,” he said of his big-league experience, “the act that I’m a proven player and I’m cheap.”

And by June, he might be a starting player at Wrigley Field – when the A’s come to town for an interleague series.

“I will tell you this – it’s exciting to be with this team,” he said. “It’s a young team. I’ve got more in common with these guys. It’s a fun clubhouse, laid back. It’s just a lot of fun.”

GLASSES NO BIG THING – WILD THING OR OTHERWISE — Randy Wells, who threw two perfect innings Thursday, still hasn’t gotten those game glasses he ordered after failing the annual eye-chart test early in camp. But manager Lou Piniella it doesn’t look like the sophomore right-hander needs them.

“I didn’t think so,” Piniella said. “I told him, `Before you put the glasses on, let’s try it without.”

In fact, Wells might never use them if he keeps going like this. His eyes are only slightly out of whack (20-30) anyway.

“I’m not going to wear them until I throw a couple of bullpens and see if it helps,” he said. “It’s more for reading and seeing at night. It’s just an idea that maybe they’ll help me for pitching.”

The only time he’s had trouble seeing the catcher’s signs, for instance, is at night at “certain stadiums that aren’t well lit.”

PROSPECT WATCH — Tyler Colvin, the former first-round draft pick filling in for left fielder Alfonso Soriano in the starting lineup today, went 3 for 3 with one of the Cubs’ five home runs.

And shortstop Starlin Castro, who took over for Ryan Theriot in the middle innigs, went 1 for 3 with an impressive drive to the gap in right that he legged into a triple.

“Castro’s smooth at shortstop, and that ball he drove to right center field, he hit that ball like a big man,” Piniella said. “That ball just jumped off the bat.”

Neither is in the Cubs’ plans for the opening roster, barring an injury, but Colvin – who got two weeks of unexpected experience last September after Milton Bradley was suspended – could fight his way into the mix with a big camp.

“Why not?” Piniella said. “I’ve said that we’re going to let these guys compete and we’ll see how it all shakes out. I have no idea.”

SI RANKS HENDRY MIDDLE OF PACK: Cubs GM Jim Hendry is 16th in the majors (sixth in the National League) in a ranking of baseball’s GM’s by SI.com.

According to the author: “It’s tempting to overreact to a lousy 2009 and to heavily count bad contracts doled out to players such as Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley against Hendry, but the truth is that he built a consistently successful team that had every chance to win a World Series at its peak and just didn’t, through no real fault of his. The Cubs are now likely in for a hangover as the core of that team ages, but given the team’s history he was right to go for it all.”