SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Joe Mather may be the key ingredient for the Cubs' bench.
The versatile Mather, 29, started at third base Tuesday against the Giants. He's played in the outfield and also can play first base. In six games entering Tuesday, he's batted .545 (6-for-11) with four homers, two doubles and six RBIs. Compare that to one year ago when he hit .145 in 25 games in the Braves' spring camp.
"It's been pretty impressive to have a guy do what he's done with the bat, especially against right-handed pitching," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Mather, a right-handed hitter. "It's not like he's going out there against left-handed pitching and doing it.
"It's a huge asset to the manager," Sveum said. "He can probably play every infield position and get by with a day up the middle. He can play the corners, play every outfield position."
Which is a big plus for the Cubs, who have more left-handers in the lineup with the addition of Ian Stewart, Bryan LaHair and David DeJesus. Mather gives the Cubs more options on the bench than Tony Campana, who also is trying to lock up a spot.
"You talk about our lineup and the way our team stacks up, it's a perfect fit when you have two corner guys who are left-handed hitters and your right fielder is a left-handed hitter, and they need days off," said Sveum, projecting Mather could sub in left field for Alfonso Soriano as well.
"He's proven the athletic ability and the baserunning and the bat fits our team to a tee right now," Sveum said.
Mather also has speed. He's stolen three bases so far this spring as well. He signed with the Cubs as a non-roster invitee and has Major League experience with the Cardinals and Braves.
"You can tell he's a baseball player who knows how to run the bases," Sveum said. "He comes to play, comes to work every day to make himself a better player. He's going to be a huge asset."