Mesa, Arizona – The Chicago Cubs’ roster is full of guys who could potentially be plugged into their outfield spots, and they also have a done of guys in their pipeline that could be contributors on the green grass at Wrigley Field at some point in the near future. So far in Cactus League play though, there is one guy that is standing out, and he is making a strong case to lock down the right field spot for the North Siders.
That player is Nate Schierholtz, and he pleaded his case in a strong way on Friday afternoon at Cubs Park. In six innings of work, Schierholtz reached base all three times that he stepped to the plate, including a double in the bottom of the sixth inning that helped propel a four run Cubs rally that culminated with a Luis Valbuena home run to right-center field.
That inning ended up helping the Cubs to a 5-4 victory in the game, but even without the outcome in mind, it was still clear that Schierholtz was well-suited to batting ahead of Anthony Rizzo in the Cubs’ lineup. He was willing to take pitches (as he did in his first inning walk), but he was also willing to swing the bat when necessary, as he showed when he became the first Cub to hit the ball out of the infield on a fourth inning single.
Overall on the spring, Schierholtz hasn’t had outrageously great numbers, but he has still been consistent. His .375 OBP and .899 OPS are both very solid, and he has three walks to go along with his six hits in 24 plate appearances. He also had a home run and two RBI in Cactus League play.
Schierholtz may not get the adulation that guys like Junior Lake receive, and he may not have the raw potential of players like Albert Almora and Jorge Soler, but he is a player who knows what his role is on the team, and he approaches the game like a savvy veteran. He definitely did that on Friday, and if he can continue to do so, then he is going to be an integral part of the Cubs’ lineup this year.