Nick Jonas takes BP with Cubs at Wrigley Field
Musician shows off hitting skills as he tunes up for All-Star week
CHICAGO -- Nick Jonas tapped his bat on home plate like he knew what he was doing. And he did.
The 18-year-old pop star took batting practice with the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Monday. He slipped into a Cubs jersey with "JONAS" and No. 2 on the back, tightened his blue batting gloves, slid a weight onto his black bat and waved it around as he chatted with Cubs players, including Ryan Dempster, James Russell, Randy Wells and Reed Johnson outside the batting cage. When it was his turn, he strolled to home plate, tapped his bat a few times and cocked it behind his head.
"I was trying to get a few over the wall, but I didn't quite make it," said Jonas, the youngest of the the pop-rock band The Jonas Brothers.
He came close. He popped the first seven or eight pitches into the netting on top of the batting cage, but then he started lining balls to left field. By his third and final round, he was hitting the ivy-covered left-field wall on a bounce or two.
Jonas, in town for the Quaker Chewy Superstar Search's stop at Navy Pier in downtown Chicago to greet fans auditioning for his new singing contest, used the batting practice as a tuneup for his appearance in the 2011 Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game on July 10 at Arizona's Chase Field.
Jonas said he loves baseball but prefers playing softball. He plays third base on a softball team with his brothers and hit nine home runs in the team's 12 games last season.
"I don't want to brag, but I lead the team in home runs," Jonas said.
Jonas said he received some coaching and encouragement from Dempster. Jonas didn't know what size bat he was using; he he said it used to belong to Carlos Silva, a former Cubs pitcher.
After Jonas' first round of batting practice, Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo called over to make sure he kept hitting.
"Nick, come get ready," Jaramillo said.
Jonas said he always enjoys meeting coaches.
"Players are amazing, and they're obviously all so talented, but just being able to meet the coaches and see how they lead this team and kind of take control of all these crazy guys is fun," he said.
Jonas' baseball loyalties range from coast to coast, though he said he now has a soft spot for the Cubs.
"I grew up in New Jersey, so I pull for the Yankees," Jonas said. "[I] spend a lot of time out in L.A., so I pull for the Dodgers. But I also live in Texas, so it's sort of spread out as far as my teams. But I found a new love for the Cubs here today."
Jonas didn't play baseball much growing up but has visited several big league teams. He went to Spring Training with the Dodgers a few years ago and got some hitting tips from their current manager, Don Mattingly.
After finishing his final round of batting practice, Jonas began doing interviews behind the batting cage. Cubs catcher Geovany Soto yelled toward him.
"You're not picking up the balls? You're kidding me," Soto said, then smiled.
Alex Ruppenthal is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.