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Bonifacio an early hit in the Cubs' clubhouse

Bonifacio an early hit in the Cubs' clubhouse

MESA, Ariz. -- Emilio Bonifacio was one of the last players added to the Cubs' roster, signing a Minor League contract on Feb. 15, and he's been the center of attention in the clubhouse in his neon-colored clothing, chatting non-stop with the other Latin players.

"These guys are known," pitcher Carlos Villanueva said of Bonifacio and Jose Veras, who also has a definite presence in the Cubs clubhouse among the young Latin pitchers. "The younger kids, [Arismendy] Alcantara and [Jeudy] Valdez, they idolized players like Bonifacio. He played in the winter leagues. [The kids would] see a game, and they'd announce 'Emilio Bonifacio' and the crowd would go crazy.

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"Even though you don't know them, you feel like you do, so when they come in the clubhouse, they have a certain presence that demands respect and since they are the way they are, so outgoing with the boys, they know everybody," Villanueva said.

Bonifacio, who started in left field on Thursday, will likely be the Cubs' leadoff man when he's in the lineup. How is it that he can blend so well in a new clubhouse?

"I'm always laughing," Bonifacio said. "I try to give my energy to everyone here."

The switch-hitter has played for the D-backs, Nationals, Marlins, Blue Jays and Kansas City. Does he blend in that well on every team?

"That's the person I am -- I always try to be happy and make the work a little bit easy," he said.

Villanueva likes having Bonifacio in the mix.

"He can play great second base," Villanueva said. "He's a very good infielder, middle infielder. He's very funny. He keeps the boys loose. It's a good personality to bring in. He's not uptight all the time. ... I know it [stunk] for him to be released that late, but you never know, it might be a blessing, and he could get an opportunity here."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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