Cubs could seek more help for infield
Team must sort backup options for Ramirez at third base
MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs may be looking for additional help in the infield, especially if they're not comfortable with their candidates to back up third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Wednesday he has talked to general manager Jim Hendry about the bench and said the team's scouts will be keeping an eye out once games start in both Florida and Arizona.
Right now, Mike Fontenot is Ramirez's backup. But Fontenot's primary position will be second base. By carrying 12 pitchers, the Cubs are limited to 13 position players. Do the math. You have the eight regulars plus a backup catcher. That's nine. Micah Hoffpauir, who can play first and the corner outfield spots, will likely get one spot, outfielders Reed Johnson and Joey Gathright each get a position and you can slot either Aaron Miles or Fontenot into the last spot.
That doesn't leave much wiggle room on the 25-man roster.
Miles will be Ryan Theriot's backup at shortstop. In a perfect scenario, Theriot, Fontenot and Miles will each get 400 at-bats. Expect Theriot to get more, but Piniella would like to avoid having the shortstop close to 600.
"Theriot plays with a lot of energy," Piniella said. "If we can get him a little more of a breather, I think that will help him."
Jake Fox, a hitter who can't seem to find a position with the Cubs, has been taking grounders at third. He was leading the Dominican Winter League in batting this offseason, and has three excellent instructors to fall back on in Alan Trammell, Ivan DeJesus and Ryne Sandberg.
"I watched him," Piniella said. "I'll watch him some more. It's hard on Jake. He was a catcher, he moved to the outfield, first base, third base. Third base is a tough position to play. You have to read things really well."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.