These four players have turned heads in Cubs camp. Who made the list?
While most players have gone through the typical ups and downs of camp, there are a few players who have had a big impact this spring or put themselves on the radar to make the Cubs’ Opening Day roster.
TEMPE, Ariz. — It seems like yesterday Cubs pitchers and catchers were reporting, but with 10 days until the regular season starts, spring training is winding down.
While most players have gone through the typical ups and downs of camp, there are a few players who have had a big impact or put themselves on the radar to make the Opening Day roster.
Here are four players who have performed the best in camp:
The Cubs waited until the end of the offseason to acquire Joc Pederson, but the left fielder has wasted no time making his presence felt. Pederson, who signed a one-year,
$7 million deal in February, has shown big-time power, hitting five homers with a 1.325 OPS in 14 games.
Pederson has fit right into the Cubs’ lineup, bouncing around in different spots as manager David Ross has looked for the right balance in his batting order. After the departure of outfielder Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs are hoping Pederson can produce not only against right-handers, but left-handers, as well.
“I know what type of player I am, and just getting opportunities is going to be good for me,’’ Pederson said last month. ‘‘I guess you could say I’ve got to prove some stuff to them, but I’m not out to prove it for anybody but myself.”
The Cubs are expecting a bounce-back season from the middle of their order, and catcher Willson Contreras is going to be a big part of that. The two-time All-Star seems ready to contribute and has looked as locked in as any hitter in the lineup.
Contreras is 10-for-31 with a double, two triples, three home runs and four walks in 12 exhibition games.
‘‘I think I have the right preparation,’’ Contreras said. ‘‘That doesn’t mean that I’m gonna have success on the field, but I think I have the right mindset. I think my confidence is at a nice level. I just trust myself.
“I think whenever you believe in yourself, no matter what preparation you have, you’re gonna have a good chance of good -results.’’
No pitcher in camp has had a better spring than Shelby Miller. Coming into the spring as a non-roster invitee, Miller wasn’t guaranteed anything. But with each appearance, the 30-year-old right-hander has gone from depth piece to having a legitimate shot to make the Opening Day roster.
Miller has a 1.29 ERA in seven innings with eight strikeouts and two walks. He has experience as a starter and a reliever and could be the Cubs’ swingman in 2021.
“We think Shelby could fill a number of roles,” Ross said. “He can be starting depth and a guy in the bullpen that can get an inning and really bring some real velocity or give you two or three [innings], as well. There’s a lot of roles there for him. He’s had a phenomenal spring and really pitched well for us and opened a lot of eyes around here, and what we thought he could be is exactly what he’s turned into.”
After Nico Hoerner’s hot start to the spring, it appeared the Cubs’ second-base competition was all but locked up. But David Bote is giving the team something to think about with 10 days until the season starts. The 27-year-old utilityman has had a scorching spring, going 11-for-32 with three home runs, including a two-homer game Sunday.
Bote has always played the role of utilityman during his career in Chicago. While he often has provided an offensive spark off the bench, he never has gotten more than 303 plate appearances in a season. If he keeps up his level of play, that might change in 2021.
‘‘We all can swing it,’’ Bote said. ‘‘You let the play do the talking. Whoever’s coming out and doing it is going to get that [job]. I have confidence in myself as much as they have confidence in themselves. You just go out there and you play your best and you don’t worry about anything you can’t control.’’