By Jose M. Romero / @RomeroJoseM
For FOX Deportes
PHOENIX – David DeJesus’ move to center field is like someone riding a bike for the first time in a while.
DeJesus has played the position a lot, especially during his early years with the Kansas City Royals. From 2004 to 2008, DeJesus, now with the Chicago Cubs, played 1,089 games in center.
So when the Cubs asked the veteran DeJesus, whom they brought in as a free agent to play right field, to slide over and help make way for the arrival of highly-touted prospect Anthony Rizzo from the minors, DeJesus knew it wouldn’t take much to regain the feel for the position.
You always remember how to ride a bike if you did it a lot in your younger days. Apply that principle to DeJesus remembering how to play center field.
“Part of the deal. Just getting more reps every day out there, feeling better,” DeJesus said before the Cubs faced the Arizona Diamondbacks Sunday. “(Coach) Dave McKay has helped me out a lot in positioning, so I feel comfortable out there.”
Everyone in Cubland, looking for something positive about a last-place team that is already looking beyond this failed season (24-47 as of Sunday morning), can’t wait for Rizzo to arrive. It was to happen as soon as Monday, and set off a chain reaction of movement around the diamond for a few starting players.
With Rizzo stepping in at first base, Bryan LaHair was to go to right field, where DeJesus has played 61 games this season. DeJesus moved to center field last week, and Tony Campana, who has the most starts in center among the other Cubs’ outfielders, is relegated to a more reserve role.
“That’s the way it is. Rizzo is coming up soon, and it’s a matter of time. He’s a quality player, so center field, that’s where I play now and we’re going to go from there,” DeJesus said.
DeJesus, 32, has played all over the outfield throughout his career. The son of a Puerto Rican father from San Juan and a third-generation Puerto Rican-American mother from Brooklyn, DeJesus grew up in New Jersey and has played in the majors consistently since 2004. DeJesus was the first free-agent signing for the new Cubs’ front office, led by president Theo Epstein.
“It’s an honor to be Theo’s first pick when he came over,” DeJesus said. “I was excited more than very anxious or anything like that. I wanted to come out here. Especially being from Illinois. That’s our (family) home base now, so I wanted to come up there and showcase the skills that God gave me.”
DeJesus was one of the few lucky ones – after playing for the Oakland A’s last season, he had just bought a house near Chicago in October of last year, and about a month later he signed with the Cubs.
“It’s awesome to be able to play at home and have grandparents there for our 2-year-old son,” DeJesus said.