Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs announced their final roster cuts for Spring Training, sending down Micah Hoffpauir, Sam Fuld, and Chris Robinson, and releasing Kevin Millar.
That meant that Chad Tracy, who’d been locked in a perceived struggle with Millar to win the last bench spot on the Cubs, would be making the team. For his part, Tracy was relieved.
“I’ve never been in this situation before,” Tracy said Tuesday. “As a kid, you’re doing the whole big league camp thing and you don’t expect to make the team. There’s expectations as you progress in your career. It’s a little different. I wasn’t used to these emotions and getting stressed.”
He can relax now. The Cubs picked Tracy for the final roster spot over Kevin Millar, opting to keep a left-handed bat who can play the corner infield spots. On Tuesday, he looked more at ease when he smacked his first spring homer with two outs in the eighth, a two-run shot.
“You never know what to think,” said Tracy, who found out before Tuesday’s game. “Your nerves are a little high, a little on edge. Now, hopefully, I can settle down.”
Tracy had been in the D-backs’ system until this year and was a non-roster invitee in the Cubs’ camp. How would he assess his spring?
“I’m not going to say it went really well,” said Tracy, who was batting .243. “I had some good at-bats, some bad at-bats. I proved I could play third base again, which is one of the reasons I’m still around here now. Hopefully, they have faith I can play either corner and help the team.” cubs.com.
There’s no debating that Millar out-hit Tracy in Spring Training this year. But there’s also no debating that Millar is a 38 year old with declining skills who can play a serviceable first base and little else. He was loved in the clubhouse, but the fact remains, he hasn’t been an average hitter in three years. The move may signal the end of Millar’s career.
Tracy, 29, hits left-handed, can play 3rd, 1st, and the corner outfield spots in a pinch, was clearly the better choice. Sure, he hasn’t hit for shit in three years either, there remains some upside, and he owns a .965 OPS as a pinch hitter. He even had a .984 OPS as a pinch hitter last year, when he was otherwise terrible.