"He noticed I wasn't exactly grabbing everything to eat on the table," Watkins said of Sveum.
The Wichita, Kan., native doesn't have dietary restrictions, just a limited palate.
"Sure enough, we struck up a great conversation where I told him everything," Watkins said.
What Watkins, 23, revealed was all the things he'd never eaten, including chocolate milk, apple pie and guacamole. Sveum was amazed, and for the past week, he's done daily taste tests with Watkins.
Before every team meeting at HoHoKam Park, Sveum would walk into the room, carrying a covered plate. He'd make eye contact with Watkins. The manager would go over the workout plan for the day, and then the infielder would be asked to come up to a table in the middle of the room to eat whatever surprise Sveum had.
Last Saturday, it was chocolate milk. On Sunday, it was an orange, which Watkins had to peel. Monday was plain yogurt with berries. Tuesday was blueberry pie, and that wasn't good. Watkins got one day off because they ran out of time. On Thursday, he had plain oatmeal, which he called "terrible."
Friday was the last day, and that's when Sveum presented the guacamole. Watkins had been dreading that.
"Just on strictly appearance, I wasn't a fan of guacamole," Watkins said. "I'm still not a fan. It had no taste. That's probably the last time I'll try it."
It wasn't the mushy texture or the green color that was the problem.
"It had no taste," Watkins said.
But it wasn't the worst.
"Oatmeal took the cake," Watkins said. "Blueberry pie was a close second. Everything else was not bad, I guess."
Would he eat any of the foods again?
"Chocolate milk or yogurt would be the only two I'd consider," he said. "The berries were OK."
Watkins is a steak and potatoes kind of guy.
"My favorite food is bread, like a roll from 'Texas Roadhouse,'" he said.
He's even adventurous enough to put butter on them.
"I just kind of stay in my own lane and eat the same thing over and over again," Watkins said. "[My family] didn't bring me up to eat like that, but that's the way I grew up."
It's not that he had a bad reaction to anything he ate or endured a bout of food poisoning.
"It's more that I'd never tried it because I never felt like it," he said.
Watkins was the Cubs' 2012 Minor League Player of the Year, and this is his first big league spring camp. It's one he and his stomach won't soon forget. What does he eat in the Minors?
"I eat a lot of peanut butter sandwiches, because that's there every day, and I'll eat it every day," he said. "Or chicken. I like chicken."
The teasing was good natured, and Watkins handled it well, even if his tummy didn't.
"I'm glad everybody got as much enjoyment out of it as they did, because I didn't," he said. "It's OK. It's over now."
Watkins can focus on prepping for the season and on the team bunt tournament. The young infielder has been impressive in that.
"I'm pretty excited," Watkins said after the last taste test. "It's over, and now I can concentrate on hitting."