MESA, Ariz. -- Tony Campana is fast, he just wasn’t very quick when it came to getting his first hit of the spring.
The speedy Chicago Cubs outfielder snapped an 0-for-16 start to the Cactus League schedule when he singled to left-center field in his first at-bat Sunday against the Chicago White Sox. He then stole second base. In his next-at-bat he laid down a perfect suicide squeeze and beat out the throw to first for another hit.
“I really needed a game like this,” Campana said. “I kind of came out and maybe pressed a little bit too much. Everybody had been patting me on the back and telling me, ‘It’s all right,’ But every day you don’t get a hit you’re like, ‘Man, it’s got to come soon.’”
Maybe if every day was as blustery as it was on Sunday in the desert, Campana would be in better position.
“It woke me up a little bit, I guess,” he said. “It’s more like home. It’s more like Chicago.”
Campana finished the day 2-for-4, grounding into a fielder’s choice in the eighth inning of a tie game with the bases loaded. The White Sox won 7-5 in 10 innings.
Campana entered spring training as a candidate for a backup outfielder role, but has been outplayed for the job by non-roster invitee Joe Mather.
Among Mather’s advantages are that he can hit for power and can play both the infield and outfield. Mather hit the go-ahead home run in the ninth inning of the Cubs’ victory over the Texas Rangers at Las Vegas.
Called up to the major leagues in May of last year, Campana finished the season with 24 steals in 26 attempts and played in 95 games.
“We know his speed is what it is and he’s had a tough spring but he had a great day today,” said Jamie Quirk, who was the acting manager with Dale Sveum running the split-squad lineup in Las Vegas. “We have a bunch of games still and everybody will get their playing time. When we get down to it, a lot of guys are still in the mix for that [backup outfield] job.”