There was obviously plenty to watch with the Chicago Cubs this spring.
You had a new manager, in Dale Sveum, working under a new front office regime led by Theo Epstein, and more bounce back candidates than any other team in the league. Yet, a nearly unknown quantity stole the show all spring, and has earned himself a spot on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster.
Take what you want out of spring training statistics, but Mather’s 23 hits, including 11 for extra bases and .418 average lead the club this spring. He’s been a force at the plate. His glove has also been impressive, making some nice grabs around the outfield, while also holding down positions in the infield.
Mather was rewarded for his terrific spring by officially being named to the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, where he’ll start the season as a reserve, with a chance to push some of the regular guys in the lineup.
Part of the reason Mather made the squad was not only because of his statistical performance in the spring, but his versatility as well. Mather can play solid defense in all three outfield spots and both of the corner spots on the infield. He should see plenty of playing time, even early in the season.
The fact that Mather’s wrist is finally healthy after issues that have hampered him since he had surgery in 2008 is also likely a key contributor to him finally breaking out this spring with the Cubs.
As the season gets ready to open up, having Mather on the roster is an intriguing situation. Should the Cubs elect to trade a guy like Marlon Byrd early on, could they throw Mather into his starting role until Brett Jackson is ready for a callup? And the fact that both of the Cubs’ corner guys, Ian Stewart and Bryan LaHair, are left-handed should mean plenty of playing time either way for the biggest surprise of Cubs’ spring training.