Don’t worry, Chicago Cubs fans. Anthony Rizzo is going to be away from the team for a while, but it’s not because of the sudden injury epidemic that has struck the Cubs.
Rizzo will be playing for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic, which gives 2012 back-up catcher Steve Clevenger the opportunity to play first.
Yes, a catcher will be playing first base.
Clevenger was originally signed by the Cubs as an infielder and he has said that he feels completely comfortable playing the infield.
“I see [Sveum is] trying to do something to help me try to make the team,” he told Cubs.com. “I don’t feel out of whack playing infield at all. I just want to go out there and take my ground balls and get my work in.”
Clevenger is expected to play first while Rizzo is gone, but Cubs manager Dale Sveum plans to move his back-up catcher to third base and possibly even second base during Spring Training to give him a little more experience around the infield while a handful of other players are benched with injuries.
Because of the numerous injuries that have suddenly plagued the Cubs during Spring Training, this is the perfect opportunity for Clevenger to prove that he should be a part of the team’s 25-man roster come Opening Day. He made the Cubs’ Opening Day roster in 2012 as a back-up catcher, but this year’s number of sidelined players have the bench situation completely out of whack, which gives the 26-year-old the chance to show he should be a part of this team.
As if Clevenger’s defensive versatility wasn’t enough to make him a candidate for the Cubs 25-man roster, the catcher is also left-handed and we all know how much the Cubs desperately need lefties in the lineup. He hit .224 against right-handed pitchers in 2012. No, those aren’t quite the numbers that Rizzo–another lefty–can put up, but an extra left-handed batter could still be an asset to the lineup.
Sure, it’s a little unusual to see a catcher play the infield, but desperate times call for desperate measures. If Clevenger has faith in himself playing the infield, there’s no reason why the rest of us should doubt him.