Gerut happy to be a Cub

Gerut happy to play for hometown team

CINCINNATI -- So what if Jody Gerut grew up a White Sox fan? The Chicago native and newest addition to the Cubs' roster couldn't be more excited to play in his hometown.

"It's just crazy," a buoyant Gerut said Tuesday afternoon. "It's just a whirlwind. But I'm real excited to be here, real excited. I mean, the chance to go to Wrigley Field every day and do my job, it's just unbelievable. I have a lot of friends and family in Chicago who are very jealous right now."

And they all let Gerut know right away.

The 27-year-old Gerut said he received several phone calls Monday night after he was traded from Cleveland for fellow outfielder Jason Dubois.

Tuesday, he flew to Cincinnati to join his new club.

But Gerut couldn't just sit back and enjoy his new surroundings. Gerut was repeatedly interrupted and asked to try on new hat sizes or make sure his uniform was up to par.

That's part of the trade process that Gerut could do without.

"I really like coming to the park and having my clothes already there," Gerut said. "I like having my hat already.

"I'm not a hotel-type guy; I'm a comfort-type guy. I don't like being pulled out of my comfort zone, because I like having my favorite place to eat, my favorite postgame secret place to have a beer. And it's those little things that you grew to love about a city."

And now Gerut's going to have to learn Chicago again -- nine years after he left it.

Gerut was born in Elmhurst, Ill., then left to attend Stanford University. Once there, he earned All-American honors in each of his three seasons.

In 1998, he was selected in the second round of the First-Year Player Draft by the Colorado Rockies, then he signed with the Indians in 2001.

Before Tuesday, Cleveland was the only Major League home Gerut had known in his three-year career. In his first season with the Tribe, in 2003, he was voted The Sporting News Rookie of the Year, batting .279 and leading the Indians in home runs (22) and RBIs (75).

He struggled through knee problems the next year and the early part of this year, but seemed to be well on his way to returning to his everyday role with the Indians, batting .275 with 12 RBIs in 44 games this year.

That's when he got the sudden news that he had a new baseball home.

"I was totally and completely floored," Gerut said of the trade. "Shocked. But that's the way it goes. That's the way it goes in this game. I mean, when you try to do things to make the playoffs, anything can happen.

"[The Indians] had a few specific goals in mind. [They] needed a right-handed power guy, and I'm a left-handed line-drive hitter. I didn't fit the bill for what the organization believed [it] needed to take the next step. I can respect that totally. And that's that."

Now Gerut will try to fit in with the Cubs organization.

With Corey Patterson still in Triple-A Iowa, the Cubs needed a reliable defender. And Gerut doesn't hide the fact that defense is his biggest strength.

"First and foremost is playing defense," Gerut said. "I think that's job No. 1. I pride myself on playing defense and doing little things at the plate. I'm a line-drive hitter, not a power guy. I just try to do little things -- the little things that make championship players."

Gerut played center field through his three seasons at Stanford but has been a corner outfielder since coming up with the Indians.

Gerut has committed just eight errors in his three seasons in the big leagues and can flag down fly balls in just about any part of the park.

But that isn't necessarily enough to sell manager Dusty Baker on his new player.

Baker admitted that he doesn't know much about Gerut, only what he's heard from a couple of team representatives. And there's still no word on how he will use Gerut for the remainder of this season.

"It's a little late," Baker said. "You don't get to experiment too much this time of year, so I'm just going to try to get him in there when I can. This is a move not just for this year, but possibly for next year as well. And I told him, 'Just get in where you fit in. Do whatever you can to stay prepared to help us win.'"

Gerut doesn't have plans of doing anything different. The newest Cub is just waiting for his first chance to step onto Wrigley Field in a home uniform.

And to say Gerut is eager would be an understatement.

"At this point, it's just a fresh start," Gerut said. "It's just like kindergarten. It's just very new, and I can't wait to get back out there. It's going to be great."

Kyle Jepson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.