When the Chicago Cubs signed Nate Schierholtz on a modest one-year deal back in December, his role in 2013 was immediately the subject of protracted debates. He looked great as a fourth outfielder. He looked passable as the left-handed half of a platoon, depending on the other outfield moves. But as a full-time starter in right field? Eh. It’s possible he could be a quality option – particularly at his price tag – and no one’s ever really given him a shot. Maybe the Cubs were going to be the first to do it?
Given that Schierholtz reportedly had better offers at the time from teams who clearly viewed him as a fourth outfielder, it seemed pretty clear that the Cubs’ plans for Schierholtz – at least insofar as what they told him – leaned closer toward the “starting” end of the spectrum than the “bench” end.
Well, from Schierholtz’s mouth, it sounds like our speculation was probably correct.
“I had a long conversation with Dale Sveum, and they gave me every indication it was my job to win, and that I would have a great shot to play right field every day and show what I can do,” Schierholtz told Carrie Muskat. “That made the Cubs very appealing to me. That was one of my goals coming into the offseason was to find somewhere I could have an opportunity to play more and be on a team that was going to win games, too. I think the Cubs will be a good mix of those two things.”
So, while it’s definitely something short of a guarantee that he’d be starting every day, Schierholtz clearly received assurances that the Cubs viewed him as more than a mere bench guy. We’ll see how the rest of the outfield shakes out – the possible pursuit of a Scott Hairston continues to make more and more sense – but snagging a Michael Bourn type now seems even more intimately tied to an Alfonso Soriano or David DeJesus trade. Because if they’re still here, the outfield will be configured Soriano-DeJesus-Schierholtz from left to right, with spot starts for other-handed guys interspersed on a case-by-case basis.
The rest of that Muskat article, by the way, is worth a read – some very complimentary quotes about Dale Sveum.