MESA, Ariz. -- Give Cubs manager Dale Sveum an assist in convincing Brent Lillibridge to sign with the team.
"I like to get a feel for the manager, especially in a situation like this," said Lillibridge, a non-roster invitee. "I wanted to just talk baseball. [Sveum] really sold me on so many different parts of it and was real honest with me. That's what you want from the manager and the whole organization."
Now, his wife is already scouting for a place to rent in Chicago. They know the area. He played 3 1/2 seasons with the White Sox, then was traded twice last year -- once to the Red Sox and again to the Indians.
He could be the utility player the Cubs need. Although Anthony Rizzo will be the main first baseman, he will need a day off now and then. Who will back him up? Sveum said catchers Welington Castillo and Dioner Navarro will get some playing time at first in Spring Training just in case, but Lillibridge could be the guy. It helps that he has played outfield and shortstop as well.
"I'm not going to lie to you, it gives you a huge edge in the National League," Sveum said of Lillibridge's versatility. "He's got some sock in his bat for a guy who looks like he's 150 pounds soaking wet."
In 2011, Lillibridge hit 13 home runs in 97 games, and made 22 starts at first for the White Sox when Paul Konerko was hurt and Adam Dunn was struggling.
"I still have my [first-base] glove up there just in case," he said. "Unless I stand on the base, I'm quite small over there at first base. I just want a bat in my hands. If I get a chance to swing, I'm excited. I want to help as much as possible."