Bunt tourney a fun way to jump-start camp

Bunt tourney a fun way to jump-start camp

MESA, Ariz. -- Kerry Wood apparently is the early favorite in the Cubs' bunting tournament, being conducted on the half field at Fitch Park.

The field is marked with a point system, so bunts can be worth from 10 to 40 points, depending on where they end up. There's also a 100-point bull's-eye, but a player has to call the shot.

"You can't just bunt a crappy bunt and end up in the bull's-eye and get 100 points for it," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Monday. "You have to call it, kind of like [the basketball game] 'H-O-R-S-E.'"

There's a bracket for the 64 players in camp, similar to the NCAA basketball tourney. Seeding is determined by seniority.

"We're obviously emphasizing fundamentals, and it's a fun way to introduce it and get guys bearing down more," Sveum said.

A winner will be declared among the pitchers and the position players, and after two weeks, there will be a championship game.

"The guys really get into it, and it just makes them focus a little more," Sveum said.

Will there be a prize for the winner?

"There might be," Sveum said, smiling.

Don't count anyone out. Carlos Marmol may not have had a hit since 2006, but he's a candidate. Wouldn't most hitters prefer a home run contest?

"A lot of guys won't have an absolute chance in that," Sveum said. "At least in bunting, we have our good bunters and our bad bunters. In this game, anybody can surprise you on a day-to-day basis."