MESA, Ariz. — Cubs reliever David Robertson could only smile when locker mate Michael Hermosillo sent a breaking ball over the fence during live batting practice Tuesday.
“This is about as fun of an atmosphere as you can have,” Robertson said. “Facing your teammates, you just want to make sure you don’t hit one of them. I’m working on stuff — I’m not really too focused on strikeouts or walks or anything like that. If they put the ball in play, it’s good. It’s in the strike zone.”
Robertson, 36, who signed with the team March 16, days after the lockout ended, threw to batters for the first time Tuesday, having returned to camp after the birth of his third child, son Everett. During his hiatus, he kept throwing at home in Rhode Island, tossing a bullpen to a friend and even roping his neighbor into playing catch.
“I know we’ve got eight days left,” Robertson said. “So it’s crunch time. But I feel good physically. It’s a different camp, so I’m going to do the best I can to be ready.”
He estimates he threw 25 pitches in a simulated inning Tuesday. He’s expected to get into a game late this week.
“Trying to be ready for about 30 [pitches] in the game,” he said, “and then build up throughout the season.”
Robertson is one of two veteran additions the spring with closing experience, along with Mychal Givens. Both got late starts because of the already condensed spring training.
Asked about the closer role, Robertson said, “I’ve done so many different roles, it doesn’t matter. I don’t really care. You can win games in the sixth and seventh innings — you can swing the momentum. If I’m asked to close, I’ll do my best. If I’m asked to throw the seventh, eighth inning, I’ll do that. If they want me to start one, I’ve done it before [and]I’ll do it again.”
Super Bowl winner on site
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce could be spotted around Cubs camp Tuesday, another sign of baseball inching back to normalcy.
“That was really cool,” said left-hander Justin Steele, who started against the Diamondbacks. “I just said, ‘What’s up?,’ introduced myself and stuff. I’ve had him a few times in fantasy football, so he’s pretty good at that.”
Did Steele tell Kelce that?
“No, I didn’t,” Steele said. “I’m sure he gets that a lot, so I was trying to lay it low.”