Results tagged ‘ David DeJesus ’

Cubs trade OF David DeJesus to the Nats; recall Bogusevic

The Chicago Cubs today traded outfielder David DeJesus to the Washington Nationals for a player to be named later. As a corresponding roster move, the team will activate outfielder Brian Bogusevic from the 15-day disabled list.

DeJesus batted .250 (71-for-284) with 19 doubles, six home runs and 27 RBI in 84 games with the Cubs this season. He had a .330 on-base percentage and a .401 slugging percentage. The 33-year-old joined the Cubs prior to the 2012 campaign and batted .263 (133-for-506) with 28 doubles, nine home runs and 50 RBI in 148 games, posting a .350 on-base percentage and a .403 slugging percentage.

Overall, DeJesus is a career .279 hitter with 86 home runs and 513 RBI in 1,239 major league games with Kansas City (2003-2010), Oakland (2011) and the Cubs (2012-13).

Bogusevic is batting .261 (12-for-46) with three doubles and three RBI in 13 games with the Cubs this season. The 29-year-old was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 19 (retroactive to July 15) with a left hamstring strain. He completed a rehab assignment during which he hit .367 (11-for-30) with four doubles, one triple and five RBI in eight games with Rookie-level Mesa (seven games) and Triple-A Iowa (one game).

The popular DeJesus was also credited with being a mentor to younger players on the team, especially first baseman Anthony Rizzo. In honor of DeJesus’ contributions to the Cubs, below we are reprinting a feature we ran on him in the June 2012 edition of Vine Line.

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

David DeJesus charged hard around the bases.

Rounding second, he nimbly hopped over a grounder that skittered into the outfield, and then broke into a toothy grin. Covered in sweat, he returned to the dugout to retrieve his glove—for fielding practice. The 2012 late-April night game against the St. Louis Cardinals was still two and a half hours away.

This batting practice display offers a glimpse of the intangibles—the intensity, the passion, the childlike joy—that likely convinced Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer to make DeJesus their first and most prominent roster addition when they came aboard in 2011. It was by no means a splashy signing. But as an elite defensive outfielder with a solid bat, DeJesus was a bodily manifestation of “playing the game the right way,” a phrase often used to describe the “Cubs Way.”

“He’s a perfect example of where this organization is headed,” said former Cub Reed Johnson, who spoke gushingly about DeJesus’ play in right field and his tireless work ethic.

For DeJesus, signing with the Cubs was nothing less than an alignment of the stars. The 33-year-old right fielder was looking for a bounce-back season after suffering a frustrating down year in 2011 with the Oakland A’s, and Epstein’s faith reaffirmed what he always believed about himself as a player. It also provided DeJesus the luxury of being able to drive home after games to his new residence in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton, where he lives with his wife, Kim, and their 3-year-old son, Kingston.

“It’s an honor,” DeJesus said of Epstein’s pursuit of him. “With the track record he has of bringing in quality baseball players … it’s definitely something I’m proud of. I’m happy he thinks of me like that.”

What seemed like a storybook marriage of team and player got off to a rocky start in Chicago, as DeJesus struggled at the plate in the early going. But as the weather warmed up, DeJesus’ bat started showing signs of life. He finished the season with a batting average of .263 and his on-base percentage was a respectable .350. He even drew a rare walk-off walk in an 11th inning victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 6. The toothy grin was on full display there too.

Despite maybe having lower offensive stats than planned, skipper Dale Sveum expressed no worries, pointing to his right fielder’s merits, which don’t always show up in the box score, and calling DeJesus “a real smart player” and a “very nice asset to have.”

“He’s probably one of the top five outfielders in baseball,” Sveum said. “He’s still putting up quality at-bats.”

After that late April batting practice, DeJesus sat in the empty Cubs dugout and denied feeling any added pressure from being the first and perhaps most symbolic signing of the nascent Epstein regime in Chicago.

“There’s enough pressure in baseball,” DeJesus said. “To put that on, in addition to coming to the field and trying to hit 95 [mph fastballs] every day, that’s just going to weigh on you. All I can do is go out there and play the game the way I know how to play it, with passion and with the team logo on my heart.”

Family Ties
Growing up in Manalapan, N.J., the young DeJesus waited each day for the sound of the garage door opening at 5 p.m. It meant his father was home from work. It also meant baseball.

Nearly every day, Heryk DeJesus would take his three sons to the park after work to hit and shag baseballs. A native of Puerto Rico, the patriarch insisted his sons learn the game he loved so dearly. In cold weather (which is not uncommon in New Jersey), they retreated to the basement, where Heryk set up a makeshift backstop with a mattress and blankets hanging from the ceiling. The DeJesus boys hit balls flipped to them or off of a tee.

“That constant persistence of perfecting the swing and getting good pitches and stuff like that, I think that got me where I am today,” he said.

DeJesus broke into the big leagues with the Kansas City Royals in 2003 and has since enjoyed a solid career offensively, with the exception of 2011’s injury-hampered campaign. He’s a smart situational hitter who grinds out at-bats, gets on base, runs the bases hard and scores runs.

In his first year with the Chicago Cubs, DeJesus said he felt right at home—even though he’s not exactly a big-city guy.

“We decided we weren’t downtown people so we moved out to the suburbs,” he said. “I don’t like the hustle and bustle of the city. I like the open space. I like the Target being one floor instead of three.”

In a move of surprising prescience, the couple actually bought their 15-room brick mansion more than a month before DeJesus signed with the Cubs. They figured no matter where he signed, they would at least be close to Kim’s parents, who also live in Wheaton. For Kim, joining the Cubs—the team she grew up rooting for—was pure serendipity.

“We didn’t know he was going to be with the Cubs, obviously,” said Kim DeJesus, 31, a graduate of Wheaton Warrenville South High School. “I think I cried pretty much the whole day after finding out.”

As anyone with children can attest, it’s a luxury to live near grandparents. Scott and Shelley Iliff, Kim’s parents, help with Kingston, which allows Kim to travel with David on road trips from time to time. It also frees the couple up for the occasional date night at a vegan restaurant. (Kim, a part-time model, is a vegan; David is not.)

Being able to live in your hometown and drive to your husband’s home games is something of a dream come true for a baseball wife, Kim said.

“You can never complain in this lifestyle because it comes with so many blessings,” she said. “But living here, close to my parents, it makes it so much easier.”

Nothing is certain in the unpredictable business of baseball. DeJesus’ contract expires after 2013, with an option for the 2014 season. Add the ever-present possibility of a trade, and time in one location is never guaranteed. But the couple hopes to put down roots in Wheaton, and at Wrigley, for the foreseeable future.

“We plan to be here as long as possible. This is going to be our home base,” DeJesus said. “It makes it better when you’re playing for your hometown team, and you can go 45 minutes to home at the end of the season or at the end of the day. And I love being a Cub.”

Legacy in the Making
Lanky pitcher Jeff Samardzija stood on a chair in the clubhouse and slowly waved a radio antenna around like a divining rod, searching for a signal, before that late-April game against the Cardinals. Soon, Blue Oyster Cult and Robert Plant were blasting throughout the locker room, as players filtered in and out for batting practice. The 2012 Cubs were a team with notably good clubhouse chemistry, even after the mid-season trade departures. And several players spoke in glowing terms about DeJesus’ daily contributions.

Johnson, for example, immediately took a liking to DeJesus’ professional demeanor. So much so, he asked DeJesus to take the empty locker next to his own.

“In a city like this, if you have a guy who’s too uptight, the city can pick you apart,” Johnson said before his trade to Atlanta. “He’s got that good personality, good sense of humor, but when the bell rings, he’s ready to go.”

DeJesus also acted as a mentor for a lot of the young guys as well. With all the moves, minor leaguers were getting shuffled into the major league clubhouse at a feverish pace.

Though it was phenom Anthony Rizzo’s bat that did much of the talking in 2012, he has credited DeJesus for taking him under his wing, working out with him and showing him the ropes after the then-22-year-old’s callup. He also spoke to 12 minor leaguers during January’s Rookie Development Program, a 12-day Cubs seminar to better acclimate minor leaguers to major league baseball.

Dave McKay, the Cubs’ first base and fielding coach, praised DeJesus’ impeccable defense and how deftly he made the transition to the notoriously difficult right-field position at Wrigley.

“There hasn’t been a glitch yet,” he said. “He’s playing right field like he’s played it his whole life.”

In some ways, DeJesus is most defined by what he is not. He readily admits he’s not a power hitter, and he’s not going to swipe 60 bags. But he’s also not selfish or arrogant. He’s not a slacker or a prima donna. He’s not someone you have to worry about on the field or off. When asked how he envisions his baseball legacy, he doesn’t hesitate for a moment: He wants to be remembered as a great teammate and player who gave it his all every day.

“He plays the game like he’s blessed he’s a part of it,” McKay said.

In other words, he plays the game the right way. 

Now Playing: Bricks and Ivy Ball video

Last month, the Cubs and Chicago Cubs Charities held their annual Bricks and Ivy Ball at Navy Pier’s Grand Ballroom. Now in its third year, the event has become one of the key fundraisers for Chicago Cubs Charities. It helps support numerous organizations and programs targeting youth sports access and improvements in health, fitness and education for those at risk.

More than 840 guests helped raise $1.2 million at the Ball to benefit Chicago Cubs Charities, thanks to the generosity of Cubs owners, managers, players, front office associates and fans. As the program began, Chairman Tom Ricketts addressed the Cubs’ commitment to supporting Chicago’s children through community outreach and charitable programming.

“Our goal is to make life better for the youth and families of Chicago by doing our part to improve health, fitness and educational opportunities for those at risk,” Ricketts said. “Whether it’s a hospital visit, holiday toy drive, serving lunch at a USO or Thanksgiving dinner to homeless teens, our team is there donating their time and resources.”

During the evening, Chicago Cubs Charities introduced a video featuring some All-Star youth who have benefited from grants, including Cubs Care grants, a McCormick Foundation Fund. The video also featured Cubs players Darwin Barney, David DeJesus, Anthony Rizzo and Jeff Samardzija.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend the Bricks and Ivy Ball, you can check out the video here. Special thanks to the charities, Cubs players and Len Kasper for helping make this possible.

Hot Off the Presses: Vine Line’s Opening Day Issue

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You can never have too much pitching.

If you need further proof of that old baseball axiom, let’s look at the 2012 Cubs. They started the season with a fairly solid rotation behind a pitching-out-of-his-gourd Ryan Dempster, reliever-turned-starter Jeff Samardzija, a rejuvenated Paul Maholm and young veteran fireballer Matt Garza. At the back end, there were two options: newly acquired lefty Travis Wood and underachieving former top draft pick Chris Volstad.

Things looked pretty good on paper. But, as we all know, that didn’t last long.

The offense didn’t score. Injuries took their toll. The trade deadline came and went. And, well, the rest is lamentable Cubs history.

It turned out the team didn’t have much major league-ready talent behind those guys—in the starting rotation or in the bullpen—and baseball president Theo Epstein’s preseason prediction, “The numbers show you’re going to need your ninth starter through the course of the year,” came true.

As a result, the front office was laser focused on one thing throughout the hot stove season: acquiring more serviceable big league pitching to ensure there isn’t a repeat performance of last season.

“I think that probably the biggest weakness when we got here was depth in pitching, especially at the upper levels,” General Manager Jed Hoyer said. “Ideally, you want to home-grow all of your pitching. We don’t have that luxury right now, so we actively sought out a lot of starting pitching. We brought in four guys we see as starters: [Edwin] Jackson, [Scott] Feldman, [Scott] Baker and [Carlos] Villanueva.”

The Cubs might not have a traditional “ace” coming into the season, but they have three guys with the ability to fill that role in Samardzija, Garza and Jackson. If strike-throwing machine Baker can fully recover from last April’s Tommy John surgery, he should be a useful veteran addition to the staff. Feldman and Villanueva have both proven they can start and relieve in the big leagues, giving manager Dale Sveum plenty of flexibility. And Travis Wood, the only lefty in the starting mix, has tremendous athleticism and mixes in six different pitches.

The team also solidified the bullpen by re-signing veteran Shawn Camp and bringing in Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa. Even Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon, who is required to stay on the 25-man major league roster all season or be offered back to the Indians, looked impressive in his spring appearances.

The April issue of Vine Line takes a look at the Cubs pitching staff from top to bottom to give you an idea of what each pitcher throws, how they attack hitters and what to expect this season.

We also sat down with Hoyer to get a sense of where the organization stands as he enters his second season in the driver’s seat. The team certainly still has work to do, but there are many reasons to feel optimistic about the future.

“We’re trying to build something that every year [fans] know is a playoff-quality team,” Hoyer said. “It doesn’t happen overnight, and we’ve been really honest about that. But I do think fans deserve to start seeing the fruits of our labor, and I think you’re going to start to see that coming together now.”

Still, winning organizations are not built solely by shrewd front office maneuvers. They require buy-in from coaches, players and personnel at every level. While we were in Mesa, Ariz., with the team this spring, we got a firsthand look at how the Cubs’ message is being passed along from veteran players, like David DeJesus and Alfonso Soriano, to the younger generation, like Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson. It’s a time-honored baseball tradition—each spring, older players take the young studs under their wings to teach them the ins and outs of the major league game.

To read these stories and more, pick up the April issue of Vine Line, on sale now at select Chicago-area retailers. Or subscribe to Vine Line today. And you can follow us on Twitter at @cubsvineline.

Baseball is back. Let’s see where this ride takes us.

Have a drink with David DeJesus and Anthony Rizzo

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

If you’re in the Phoenix area this week for Spring Training, join Cubs outfielder David DeJesus, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and other big league ballplayers for a drink—for a good cause, of course.

The David DeJesus Family Foundation will be hosting a Celebrity Bartending Night on Wednesday, March 20, at the American Junkie Bar in Scottsdale, Ariz., to benefit families in need. Featured celebrity bartenders include Darwin Barney, Anthony Rizzo, Travis Wood, Adam Eaton, Javy Guerra, David Hernandez, Casey Kelly, George Kontos and Wade Miley.

The event goes from 9-11 p.m., and general admission tickets are available for purchase at the door for $50 per person. VIP tickets are $150 and include a preparty cocktail hour from 8- 9 p.m. with food and a private mix-and-mingle as the players learn how to bartend.

“We are excited to raise funds to support our mission from this fun event,” said DeJesus. “My wife, Kim, and I started the David DeJesus Family Foundation and are excited to be continuing its growth here in Arizona.”

The event is being hosted in conjunction with Issues Concerning Athletes and MiCamp Merchant Services. American Junkie Bar is located at 4363 N. 75th St., in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The David DeJesus Family Foundation was created by Cubs outfielder David DeJesus and his wife, Kim, in order to help families in crisis in Chicago and in parts of the world where people lack basic human needs.  DDFF is committed to helping alleviate suffering for those that face devastation due to illness, poverty or disaster as well as those who seek a voice to be heard. In particular, DDFF has been actively involved in the fight against ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

1000 Words: The Cubs undisputed bunt king

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

This weekend, Cubs outfielder David DeJesus successfully defended his Spring Training bunt tournament title, beating video staffer Nate Halm of the front office in the final. Halm played baseball at Miami of Ohio and semi-pro ball in Germany before joining the Cubs staff.

1000 Words: Behind the scenes with David DeJesus

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

David DeJesus works on his approach with hitting coach James Rowson in the HoHoKam clubhouse video room. The 33-year-old outfielder, who hit .263 with a .350 on-base percentage in 2012, will likely play center field this season with the additions of Nate Schierholtz and Scott Hairston.

Now Playing: Kicking Back with the Cubs, Part 3

The major league season can be a grind. Playing 162 games takes a toll on an athlete’s body and mind. That’s why downtime is so important. Some players play video games; others spend time with their families.

This week, Vine Line had some fun with the team to dig up a few facts you won’t find on the back of a baseball card. In the last installment of our spring Kicking Back video series, we talk to Cubs players about how they spent their offseason, what they do to kill time on the road and who is the worst dresser in the clubhouse.

Here are the other videos from out Spring Training series:

Mesa Cubscast: Top Prospects on the Rise

Mesa Cubscast: Kicking Back with the Cubs, Part 2

Mesa Cubscast: The Cubs Core

Mesa Cubscast: Kicking Back with the Cubs, Part 1

Mesa Cubscast: The New Guys

Mesa Cubscast: The Coaching Staff

Now Playing: Kicking Back with the Cubs, Part 2

Being a major league baseball player can be a strange life. The stakes are always high, millions of people are watching your every move and everyone wants to be your friend. You’d be surprised the things these athletes hear on a day-to-day basis.

Thanks to the World Baseball Classic, Spring Training is a few weeks longer than usual this season. As the spring slate drags on, everyone needs to blow off some steam. Vine Line had some fun with the team to dig up a few facts you won’t find on the back of a baseball card. We’ll post one more installment of our Kicking Back video series early next week.

Here are the other videos from out Spring Training series:

Mesa Cubscast: Kicking Back with the Cubs, Part 2

Mesa Cubscast: The Cubs Core

Mesa Cubscast: Kicking Back with the Cubs, Part 1

Mesa Cubscast: The New Guys

Mesa Cubscast: The Coaching Staff

 

1000 Words: First steps of the 2013 season

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

The 2013 Cubs take the field for the first time today at HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz. In an intrasquad matchup, the white team, laden with veterans like David DeJesus and new right-fielder Nate Schierholtz, took down the prospect-heavy blue team 7-3.

Cubs vs. Cubs, white team takes down blue 7-3

Game-1

The Cubs season is officially underway. After a few weeks of workouts, batting practice and bullpen sessions, the team cranked it up to game speed in a blue vs. white intrasquad matchup Thursday afternoon at HoHoKam Stadium. The veteran-laden white team took down the top prospects in the system 7-3 in a five-inning affair.

After a rainy day yesterday in Arizona—it even snowed in some areas—the grounds crew spent most of the morning getting the HoHoKam field back in playing shape. But by game time, things had dried out.

The white team got off to a fast start off blue team starter Chris Rusin in the first. After a David DeJesus groundout, Starlin Castro doubled, Anthony Rizzo walked and Alfonso Soriano singled to load the bases. New Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro followed with a single, and third baseman Ian Stewart laced a ringing double to left center to put the white team up 4-0.

Shortstop Starlin Castro, who many expect to have a big year in 2013, got off to a good start with the bat, going 3-for-3 with a double and three runs scored.

“Castro put two good swings and then just missed another really nice swing down the right field line,” said manager Dale Sveum. “That’s obviously one guy we really don’t have to be concerned with when the numbers are all done. That guy can just hit.”

Though the white team boasted most of the projected Opening Day starters, the blue team might have been the more interesting group, as it was loaded with many of the organization’s top prospects, including Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, Junior Lake and Brett Jackson.

And Soler didn’t disappoint. The left fielder gave Cubs fans a glimpse of the future when he crushed a soaring home run to left off minor league pitcher of the year Nick Struck in his first at-bat of the game. Soler also walked and made a good play coming in on a ball in left. Mind you, it was only an intrasquad, five-inning game and he was hitting off a minor league pitcher, but Soler certainly made a good impression.

“Pretty nice bat speed you saw,” Sveum said. “Those were some good at-bats—took a walk. … That guy following him up (Baez) had some pretty good bat speed going through the strike zone too—as well as Lake. There are some guys who are on that radar right now that could possibly be impact players some day.”

Top-ranked shortstop prospect Baez, who batted in the seven hole, had a little more of an up-and-down game. He struck out in the second and was robbed by Castro, who ranged to his left for a diving catch, in the fourth. On defense, he made a diving play of his own to rob David DeJesus of a single, but also got eaten up by Navarro’s single in the first.

“Baez was a little shaky today,” Sveum said. “Kind of some young stuff that’s still there that’s got to be cleaned up. [There’s] a lot of stuff, even stuff that’s behind the scenes that everybody else doesn’t see, that we have to change—some instinctive stuff.”

New Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz homered in the bottom of the third inning and had an RBI sac fly for the white team. Brian Bogusevic, an Oak Lawn, Ill., native who spent the last three years with the Houston Astros, also homered for the blue team.

Following the game, Sveum announced that third baseman Ian Stewart, who was pulled from the game in the second inning, was day-to-day with a mild—emphasis on mild—left quad strain. Josh Vitters is also day-to-day with the same injury.

“It’s an epidemic,” Sveum joked.

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