David Bote scare underscores Cubs’ lack of infield depth

SHARE David Bote scare underscores Cubs’ lack of infield depth

Bote was hit in the helmet by a pitch from Madison Bumgarner during Sunday’s exhibition game.

MESA, Ariz. — Cubs infielder David Bote appeared to fare well overnight after being hit in the helmet by a pitch from Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner in an exhibition game Sunday.

But the scare offered at least a quick reminder of how quickly the Cubs’ infield depth seems to fall off after the versatile Bote, especially as they face at least the opening month of the season without suspended shortstop Addison Russell.

‘‘We still have guys that can be moved around,’’ manager Joe Maddon said, mentioning Trent Giambrone, who played three infield positions and corner outfield for Class AA Tennessee last season, and Ryan Court, who played all four infield positions and left for Class AAA Iowa in 2018.

‘‘There are other guys there. It’s one of those situations where opportunity creates a bigger name somehow. You’re not even paying attention to somebody, and then all of a sudden here’s his moment. And then he becomes David Bote.’’

Bote was impressive in 74 games as a rookie last season and is considered one of the 12 locks to make up the non-pitching side of the Opening Day roster. An injury in that group might create a crapshoot to fill the void.

‘‘We have nice players back there that just need opportunity,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘There’s always that. And there’s always the potential, possibly, to reach out somewhere else.’’

For now, the prognosis for Bote appears good.


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‘‘He’s doing OK,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘He appears to be trending in the right direction. Nothing seems to be awful.’’

Bote showed no adverse symptoms during his second-day exam and remains under evaluation. Team officials said he hopes to resume baseball activity Tuesday, with a possible return to game action Wednesday.

Lester on DH in NL: Keep out

Left-hander Jon Lester, who spent nine seasons in the American League before signing with the Cubs, was very clear about his preference on the designated hitter being brought to the National League:


The internal discussion about making the rule uniform for both leagues (i.e., adding it to the NL) has increased in recent years, with some suggesting a change might be coming in the next few seasons.

Even though it would eliminate some early hooks caused by pinch-hitting needs, Lester is for keeping the status quo.

‘‘Hell, yeah,’’ he said. ‘‘Would you rather face David Ortiz or a pitcher?’’

First step first

Maddon lauded the diving catch converted catcher Kyle Schwarber made in left field Sunday, not only because it highlighted his growing ability in the outfield but because it demonstrated one of the defensive focuses of camp.

‘‘I’m really trying to put an emphasis on ‘first step’ at every position this year on defense, first move,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘Everybody always loves the sexy — watching themselves hit, striking somebody out, watching that nice pitch. But, nope, very few times do players have a chance to watch themselves move in the first movement.

‘‘I’m really trying to convince them that the big plays are made on the front part of the play and not on the latter part.’’

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