Cactus Notes: Sveum on bunting contest and more

MESA, Ariz.–Prior to the second intrasquad game of the season, manager Dale Sveum sat down with the media to discuss the bunting competition, some of the top prospects in camp and the new Wild Card situation.

On the Bunting Contest (where Sveum defeated Ryan Dempster yesterday)

“[Steve] Clevenger is the No. 1 guy right now. Whether he can handle the pressure or not, I don’t know. He seems to have no heart rate.”

“[Dempster] was one of the favorites and definitely spent more time practicing than anyone else. I don’t think he was real happy with yesterday’s result.”

On Bryan LaHair

“I’m impressed. I knew he had power obviously because of his numbers, but he also has tremendous leverage through the strike zone. He’s the kind of guy who can run into eight to 10 home runs a year just because of the leverage he has. What I mean by that is he can hit home runs when he’s not perfect, when he’s off balance.”

“The bottom line is the kid deserved a chance. I mean, the numbers he’s put up. Besides Rizzo, we didn’t have that incumbent coming in or anybody making $15 million in front of him or anything like that. And then what he did in winter ball was as impressive as anything. To hit 15 home runs in winter ball—nobody does that. He deserves a chance, and he’s going to get that chance.”

On Adding the Extra Wild Card Team

“It’s not something a lot of people will care for–the historians of the game–but things change over the years. The more teams you can get into the playoffs, the better it is. You can fight longer, an organization can fight longer. It puts you and a couple other teams in the running to make a trade at the deadline. I like it. I know it’s a little strange the way it’s going to be done, but for the most part, I think it’s good for baseball and good for our organization to have one extra team vying in September to make the playoffs.”

“What we saw last year going down to the last week of September probably won’t ever happen again. That many teams vying for a playoff spot. That many Wild Card and divisions coming down to the last game of the season. That’s what we all dream about as players and managers. You always want to win Wild Cards or the division by 10 games, but we know that’s not always the case. There’s so much parity going on right now in baseball. That extra team, it’s great to have. Baseball fans all over, it could come down to that last day of the season to where the whole country is watching three, four extra games because it comes down to that last Wild Card spot.”

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