Campana races around bases for first homer

Campana races around bases for first homer

Campana races around bases for first homer
CHICAGO -- Before Friday's game, Cubs manager Mike Quade joked that the way things have been going, maybe even rookie Tony Campana would hit a home run.

The speedy rookie outfielder did just that. He notched his first Major League home run in the first inning, an inside-the-park dash, against the Reds' Mike Leake in the Cubs' 4-3 win. Starlin Castro singled to lead off and Campana then lined a 2-0 pitch into the corner in left field.

Cincinnati's Yonder Alonso ran into the left-field wall along the line trying to track down the ball, but it ricocheted toward the back wall. Campana shifted into high gear and scored standing up.

"That got them on the board right away," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "That's a tough wall to play. You only have about six inches of foul territory before you hit the wall. [Alonso] got his feet tangled up, and Campana was off to the races."

He's the first Cubs player to hit an inside-the-park homer since Geovany Soto did so May 19, 2008, at Houston, and the first to do so at Wrigley Field since Sammy Sosa on Oct. 6, 2001, against the Pirates.

"I hit the ball and the first thing I thought was that the third baseman was going to catch it," Campana said. "It got by him, and I thought, 'That's a double.' I saw [Alonso] hit the wall and I thought I had a chance to get all the way around. I almost caught Starlin and I was hoping I didn't catch him."

This was Campana's first pro homer, unless you count an inside-the-park homer for Double-A Tennessee last year in the Southern League playoffs. His last home run before that? His last hit in college at the University of Cincinnati.

He's the first Cubs player to record his first home run as an inside-the-park type at Wrigley Field, and he's the first to have such a homer as his first in the big leagues for the franchise since Carmen Mauro did so on Oct. 3, 1948, at St. Louis.

How fast is Campana? Nyjer Morgan has challenged him to a foot race. Campana suggested the All-Star Game add a sprint to its list of events. Line up Michael Bourn, Dee Gordon and Carlos Gomez, too, and see what happens.

"I'd love to do something like that," Campana said.

Right now, the Cubs want him to focus on helping either off the bench or in the field.

"I do whatever I can do to help the team and that's usually getting in and playing good defense and stealing a bag here and there," Campana said. "When I get a spot start, I try to bring in some excitement to the team."

He did that on Friday.