MESA, Ariz. -- Joe Mather got a huge hug from his father prior to Friday's game. Dad had heard that his son was going to be on the Cubs' Opening Day roster. "If someone would've told me I would have this well of a camp, I'd be jumping up and down," Mather said. "It's been awesome. They gave me quite a bit of an opportunity, and it feels good to take advantage of that." He was batting .418 in 21 games and was tied for third on the team in at-bats entering Friday's matchup with the Dodgers. It's been a nice comeback for the versatile Mather, who had surgery on his left wrist in September 2008 and has needed time to heal. It's an injury similar to what former Cubs infielder Mark DeRosa had.
"It's something they tell you takes six weeks to heal, and when you come back you find out that's not necessarily the case," Mather said. "You lose a lot of the whip in your swing, and everything you taught yourself to do, you have to adjust. It was frustrating, yeah." There were a few teams interested in the right-handed hitter, who has played for the Braves and Cardinals, but he wanted to sign with the Cubs. "I always liked playing in Wrigley, always liked the Cubs' history," he said. "This was definitely a place I wanted to be. It was a nice fit." Cubs manager Dale Sveum likes having Mather as an option at either first, third or the outfield against some tough left-handed pitchers. Sveum also hinted that Mather could push some of the regulars. "That's great to hear coming from the manager that there might be some opportunity there," Mather said. "At this point, being cut down to the final 25 guys, it's about winning. That's what is most important. If I play myself into a role, that would be great, too." The difference this spring? "I think I had a really good offseason, a lot of focus went into my workouts and I think that's probably the main thing and being healthy, secondary," he said. "I had a great core of people around me, my parents, my girlfriend. Everyone's been out here. I think it's a combination of all those things."