Infielder David Bote’s journey with the Cubs has been an interesting one. He burst onto the scene with his walk-off grand slam against the Nationals in 2018 and established himself as a major-leaguer.
Despite some early success, however, Bote didn’t get an opportunity to play every day, which is the goal of every big-leaguer. He settled nicely into his role coming off the bench before 2021 opened a new door.
Bote got a real opportunity to win the Cubs’ second-base job during spring training and earned it with a strong camp. But the fact he has the job still is sinking in.
‘‘If you tell 9-year-old David, he’s probably freaking out,’’ Bote told the Sun-Times. ‘‘But as you go through this process and start learning about yourself, you start pushing the boundaries of your capabilities and growing.
‘‘I use this analogy of just being a river and just going. You continue to move, continue to grow. You go over boulders, you go under bridges, you make your path. Every once in a while, you’re going to kind of go into a lake, and you pool up and overflow and keep moving into the sea. It’s kind of how I picture the journey and enjoying that process.
‘‘All those clichés, for me, are not clichés; that’s real. One of the things I reflected on was that I’ve got a long way to go, but look how far I’ve come. That’s kind of a moment thing. And then you move out of it and you go: ‘All right, let’s push it. Let’s keep pushing yourself, keep pushing your mind.’ That’s how I’ve approached it these last couple of months.’’
Winning the job was only half the battle; keeping it is the other half of the equation. The Cubs have given Bote the keys to the job at second base, but they also have depth at the position. Veteran Eric Sogard is Bote’s backup, and Nico Hoerner, whom many think represents the Cubs’ future at the position, is waiting in the wings at the team’s alternate site.
‘‘It’s David Bote’s turn,’’ manager David Ross said. ‘‘I think David had been hearing the message for a long time that it’s someone else’s turn. So now David gets an opportunity.’’
Knowing others are waiting to take your job if you falter can affect a player’s psyche. But Bote is more into the mental aspect of the game at this point in his career, with his mental strength being one of the things he thinks can help him succeed.
Still, even players who are locked in mentally have to balance that with producing on the field, especially in a performance-based business such as baseball, right? But that’s not Bote’s style.
‘‘I’ve tried balancing it, and it doesn’t work [for me],’’ Bote said. ‘‘I have to go all-in [mentally] or nothing. I can’t control [numbers]. That’s a trap of pressing and getting caught up in results. I can’t control that.
‘‘Today does not care about yesterday’s successes, and it does not care about yesterday’s failures. Today’s the only day that I can control. I can’t even control if I hit the ball hard or if he’s gonna throw me a strike or if it’s a hit or an out.
‘‘So to try and balance [my mentality] with this being a results-based business, I can’t. I can’t balance it. I’m going all-in on one way.’’