Don't panic: DeWitt reveals his mindset

MESA, Ariz. -- Much of the reason Blake DeWitt was able to make the Chicago Cubs roster this spring was on display the day he got the word that he would be heading north with the major league club.

When the spring started, DeWitt was off the 40-man roster and had to scratch and claw his way to a spot. So when his hard work was rewarded, he certainly must have celebrated properly.

Asked if he treated himself to a nice dinner the night he made the roster, DeWitt said he did not. So then there must have been a bottle of champagne. Nope. Perhaps he will shave his beard now to mark the occasion? Negative.

While DeWitt admits there was joy in accomplishing his main goal this spring, he remained cool, calm and collected when he got the news.

“Coming off the bench late in a game to pinch hit, it will teach you that real quick to not get too high or too low because you’re going to get yourself in some trouble,” DeWitt said.

Well how about that? While his entire spring training was a metaphorical ninth-inning pinch hit appearance with a pair of runners in scoring position, what helped him through it was to channel the literal scenario itself.

“It’s a tough position to be in as a hitter sometimes,” DeWitt said. “You’re on the bench maybe three days and all of a sudden you’re facing a closer in the ninth inning of a tie ballgame. You can’t let your emotions get too high or too low.”

It didn’t take new manager Dale Sveum to have confirmed to him what he saw on the other side while the hitting coach of the Milwaukee Brewers. DeWitt might not always get the job done but at the very least he’s going to be a tough at-bat and work the count the best he can.

Sveum has even dropped the “professional hitter” tag on DeWitt, something the Missouri native now wears like a badge of honor.

“It’s not an easy thing to do coming off the bench like that but at the same time it’s also fun,” DeWitt said. “A lot of times you get those situations late in the game, tie ballgame, men in scoring position. It’s definitely a rush. It’s a fun position to be in. But at the same time as a player you just prepare yourself to be in there every single day.”

A .265 hitter last season in 230 at-bats, Sveum considers that as good as a .300 average for somebody getting consistent playing time. Now with another super sub on the roster in Joe Mather, it remains to be seen if DeWitt will have fewer chances to contribute this season.

Whatever the case, you can expect DeWitt to be level-headed about it.

“Obviously I was excited about it,” DeWitt said of his roster spot. “It’s hard not to be, but at the same time you know there is a lot more work to be done so that’s kind of the way I looked at it the whole time. Great, nice job, but let’s move on.”