Cubs’ Tommy La Stella: Has glove, will travel

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MESA, Ariz. – Tommy La Stella knows second base.

But anyone who knows Cubs manager Joe Maddon knows that’s not enough to get the whole job done if you’re a typical infielder for a guy whose favorite word might be “ubiquitous.”

“I love that word,” said Maddon, who demands enough versatility on his roster to not only move guys around the diamond from lineup to lineup but sometimes inning to inning.

La Stella got the message as soon as the Cubs acquired him in November in a trade from the Atlanta Braves – and made the first move himself, taking his own crash course in third base.

“I’ve worked over there sporadically, but following the trade they mentioned something to me and my agent about it,” La Stella said. “So I started taking reps there for the last several months. I’m very comfortable [there].”

That’s saying something for a guy who has played only second base in 288 minor-league games and 93 more in the big leagues after making his debut last May.

“It takes a second to get used to, but luckily they gave me the heads up,” he said. “I’m more than happy to play wherever I fit in, wherever the team needs me to play.”

That’s the Maddon way, which is showing early in his first spring with the Cubs not only in La Stella’s work at third with potential starter Mike Olt but also in the way Arismendy Alcantara is planning to be used as a super utility guy once games start. Maddon said middle infielder Javy Baez, who has to win a job to stay at second this season, will get some time at third, too.

La Stella, 26, is a lefty hitter the Cubs front office has eyed since his minor-league days because of on-base skills he carried to the majors last season (.328 on-base percentage was 77 points higher than his batting average).

Among players with at least 350 plate appearances, he ranked ninth in the National League in pitches per PA (4.14).

That’s the kind of thing Maddon and the brass would like to see become more “ubiquitous” among their hitters – making La Stella a potentially key player, especially if he can be used at different positions.

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