Cubs’ David Ross dubs David Bote ‘MVP so far in camp,’ but roster picture more complicated

Bote is batting .500 with a home run and five RBI already this spring.

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Cubs infielder David Bote hits a three-run home run during a spring training game at Sloan Park.

Cubs infielder David Bote hits a three-run home run during a spring training game at Sloan Park.

John Antonoff/For the Sun-Times

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Cubs manager David Ross called infielder David Bote the “MVP so far in camp” this week. But Bote knows the reality of his situation: As the Cubs weigh roster decisions, his performance in spring training is only one piece of the equation.

“I’m going to just put on my working-man boots and show up and go to work,” Bote said after his part in a 9-6 win over the Rangers on Tuesday. “And do whatever I can to help the team win and do my thing, and that’s about it. But it’s very crowded — some very unbelievable, talented people, and a team that’s going to win a lot of games, and it’s a really good clubhouse. It all makes sense.”

What Bote’s contribution will be isn’t quite clear, even though he’s batting .500 with a home run and five RBI already in nine spring-training games. He’s a non-roster invitee after being outrighted to Triple-A in November, which puts him at a disadvantage in the bench competition.

That demotion was hard, Bote said, but he has dealt with similar disappointment over the course of his pro career.

He attributes his hot start at the plate to a mental and spiritual reset over the offseason.

“Just trying to be calm, do me, playing with freedom,” he said. “Just not trying to play for anybody else, not play for myself, just understand that my delight is in my faith.”

Ross has noticed a difference even outside of games.

“Even his batting practice has been very, very impressive,” Ross said. “It’s still early, but the work he put in and the changes he wanted to make in the offseason seem to be paying off really well.”

In recent months, the Cubs have added several versatile infielders to the 40-man roster. They traded for Zach McKinstry at the deadline last season and for Miles Mastrobuoni in the offseason. They signed Edwin Rios this spring.

“What I know about winning baseball is it takes more than the 26 guys that break camp,” Ross said earlier this spring. “It takes 30, 40, 50 guys to have success. Even the guys that get sent down at some point are going to be guys that are going to help us and contribute mightily to our season, especially to get where we want to go.”

The Cubs made their first round of camp cuts Monday, reassigning eight players to minor-league camp: left-handed pitcher Brailyn Marquez, catcher Bryce Windham, infielders Esteban Quiroz, Chase Strumpf, Andy Weber and Jared Young and outfielders Darius Hill and Yonathan Perlaza.

Sampson not worried

In two spring outings, right-hander Adrian Sampson has given up six home runs, but he said he’s feeling great.

“This is the time for this to happen,” he said Tuesday after giving up six runs to the Rangers in 2⅔ innings. “I’m just going to hunt the good stuff whenever I can in this situation. And hopefully, the results come here and there. But I’ve still got time till the season starts.”

Sampson, the Cubs’ best pitcher in September, is competing for the fifth starter spot. He has been working in bullpens to re-establish the separation between his four-seamer and sinker. When he gets caught in between, the ball usually ends up over the middle of the plate.

“I’m close to clicking it,” he said of his execution, “and I know that it’s not going to affect me during the season.”

Cubs 9, Rangers 6

• Catcher Luis Torrens hit two homers Tuesday, giving him the first multi-homer game of Cubs camp.

• First baseman Edwin Rios also homered, driving in the Cubs’ first run in the first inning. He and Torrens lead the team in home runs with two apiece this spring.

• Center fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong turned heads with a diving catch in the seventh, robbing Ezequiel Duran of an extra-base hit.

On deck: Team Canada at Cubs, 2:05 p.m. Wednesday, Mesa, Marquee, Mitch Bratt vs. Justin Steele.

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Albert Ruddy produced more than 30 movies, from the “Godfather” and “Million Dollar Baby” to “Cannonball Run II” and “Megaforce,” nominees for Golden Raspberry awards for worst movie of the year.