Sveum speaks highly of DeWitt

MESA, Ariz. -- So far, Blake DeWitt looks unfazed by the setback he was dealt late in the offseason.

Outrighted off the 40-man roster when the Cubs claimed infielder Adrian Cardenas off waivers, DeWitt admitted that he didn’t know what to think when he hit the open road to drive to the desert for spring training.

Even before Cactus League games have started, DeWitt has made an impression on the new manager Dale Sveum. But it wasn’t as if Sveum needed to be that convinced about DeWitt’s hard-nosed approach.

“I know the result wasn’t there but he had two of probably the best at-bats I saw all year off [Brewers closer John] Axford last year,” said Sveum, who was the hitting coach in Milwaukee last season. “Even though he didn’t get a hit I think he lined out one time and had about a 10-pitch at-bat and then struck out. That’s what you want, the quality, consistent at-bats from guys who aren’t playing every day.”

Without a roster spot guaranteed this year, DeWitt insisted he wasn’t going to stress about it. His goal was to have fun and so far so good. He batted ninth as the designated hitter in Friday’s intrasquad game and delivered three hits.

“Yeah he’s just a professional hitter,” Sveum said. “He’s a lifetime .260, .265 hitter that’s hit home runs and getting 200, 300, 350 at-bats a year. That’s like hitting .300 as an everyday player when you can put those numbers up playing once, twice a week pinch hitting. That’s a pretty valuable player and then you can throw him at four or five positions on the field.”

That defensive versatility is what will be key for DeWitt when roster decisions are made.

“This spring is no different,” DeWitt said. “It’s one of those things that regardless you’re coming in to win a job and that’s the same approach I’m going to take. I’m not going to put any stress on myself to try and make this team. I’m going to go out and play and have fun and let things happen.”