DeJesus eager to begin Cubs tenure

DeJesus eager to begin Cubs tenure

DeJesus eager to begin Cubs tenure
CHICAGO -- A couple of months ago, free agent David DeJesus, his wife and 18-month-old son moved into a new house in suburban Wheaton, Ill., to be closer to his wife's family. They didn't know at the time David's next team would be an easy commute from home.

DeJesus signed a two-year deal with the Cubs on Wednesday and is projected to be their starting right fielder. He didn't realize until Thursday that right is the hardest outfield to play at Wrigley Field. It didn't seem to curb his enthusiasm.

DeJesus has been reading about the Cubs' new regime of Theo Epstein & Co. and was eager to be part of it.

"When you have that feeling, that new type of feeling in the city, it's exciting," he said. "Living here and seeing the [news in the] paper and the hype that's going around, and to be able to be a part of it, that's a blessing."

DeJesus is the first roster addition made by Epstein, the Cubs' president of baseball operations, and general manager Jed Hoyer. When Epstein was with the Red Sox, he actually targeted the left-handed-hitting outfielder before the Trading Deadline in 2010.

"If you watch him play, you'll admire him as a player because he goes about it the right way and he's really well-rounded," Epstein said. "I tend to like those players."

He follows a string of left-handed hitters who have been pegged as the Cubs' next right fielder, including Jacque Jones, Jeromy Burnitz, Milton Bradley and Kosuke Fukudome.

"You can't necessarily point to anything with David and say, 'Hey this guy is going to hit you 30 home runs,' because he's not," Epstein said. "You can't say he's going to hit .320, because outside of one year, he's not going to do that either. He's not going to steal you 40 bags. But I like players whose contribution is consistent across the board. They help you defensively, they can swing the bat, they have good consistent at-bats, they run the bases well.

"The totality of their contribution can be equal to or more than the player who does one thing extremely well. If we have a club full of well-rounded players, we'll far exceed the expectations, because those subtle contributions really add up."

DeJesus is coming off a down season in which he batted .240 with 10 homers, 20 doubles and 46 RBIs for the Athletics. Was he still feeling the effects of a severe thumb injury suffered in July 2010?

"It was a tough year, but I learned a lot from last year," he said of the 2011 season. "That's not the player I am, and I know that. I felt my finger a couple times, but now I'm 100 percent, working hard in the offseason to fix the things that I feel I didn't do as well as last year."

He planned on calling Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo as soon as he could to get to work. DeJesus was batting .318 with the Royals before his injury, suffered at Yankee Stadium. He has a career .292 average against right-handed pitching, something the Cubs need improvement on.

"He does things well that we, as a club, don't do well," Epstein said. "He hits right-handed pitching, he sees a lot of pitches, he doesn't strike out, he makes a lot of contact, he plays outstanding outfield defense, he runs the bases well in addition to being a solid guy in the clubhouse and a solid person. I think the most obvious ways to improve are look at those weaknesses and try to turn those into a strength."

DeJesus added another quality to his resume.

"A guy who's going to be reliable," DeJesus said. "I want to be a reliable player. When my name is on the lineup sheet, I'm going to play my best and give 100 percent. That's the way I've played since Rutgers, back in the day when my dad taught me to be accountable for your actions. That's the way I want to be."

Besides never having played at Wrigley Field, DeJesus also didn't know much about new Cubs manager Dale Sveum. He admitted to checking the Internet for some info.

"I went on Wikipedia and saw that he has a lot of experience with managers who have won a lot of ballgames," DeJesus said of Sveum. "That's the type of guy I want to be around."

The Cubs do have young outfielder Brett Jackson in the wings. Chicago's top Draft pick in 2009, Jackson hasn't been ruled out for 2012.

"He's the type of guy we want here and he's got a bright future here," Epstein said. "That said, I believe in having a player just about fully developed by the time he comes up to the big leagues. There's been a trend in the industry to promote guys pretty quickly from Double-A. I don't know if Triple-A is looked at as a developmental level any more, and it should be. I think Triple-A, we like to look at it as finishing school."

DeJesus and Jackson can play all three outfield positions as can Marlon Byrd. That will be sorted out in Spring Training.

There's been a lot of talk about how the Cubs need to change the culture. What does that mean to DeJesus?

"I think it's bringing in guys who are all for each other," he said. "They're not for themselves, they want to go and play together and win together. That's the one common goal that we have to have. Don't worry about the stuff off the field, let's just go on the field and worry about the game. If we win every inning, that'll put 'W's' in the win column."

That's what Epstein & Co. want to hear.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.