How Cubs' David Bote is viewing spring training second base competition

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Tim Stebbins
·3 min read
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How Bote is viewing spring training second base competition originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

David Bote is welcoming the open competition for the Cubs’ starting second baseman job this spring with open arms.

However, the 27-year-old infielder also is keeping a team-first perspective as he competes for the role with Nico Hoerner and Ildemaro Vargas.

“Who doesn’t love a good competition? That’s what we’re here for, to compete for jobs all the time,” Bote told reporters in Mesa on Saturday.

“Both Nico and Vargas are unbelievable people and unbelievable talents. To be teammates and to work together and to compete against each other is something you love to do.”

Bote, Hoerner and Vargas are each capable defenders with versatility to play around the infield. The 23-year-old Hoerner was a Gold Glove Award finalist at second in 2020 and someone who manager David Ross referred to recently as “a shortstop to me at second base.”

RELATED: Cubs’ Hoerner has glove, will travel — if he brings bat

However, Ross also outlined what he’s looking for as the three infielders battle it out this spring.

“Defense is always important to me,” Ross said. “But we’ve got to score some runs. As much as you want to not lose your strengths, we’ve got to score some runs. We’re going to have to have our offense be better than it’s been recently.”

Bote has had many big moments at the plate during his three years in the big leagues, most famously his walk-off grand slam against the Nationals in 2018. But like many of his Cubs teammates, he had a down 2020 offensively.

Bote slashed .200/.303/.408 in 45 games (145 plate appearances) last season. It could be easy to throw away those numbers and chalk it up to the strange season played in the midst of a pandemic, but Bote is using it as an opportunity to grow and become mentally stronger. 

“I think it would be a shame to look at 2020 and just say trash it and move on, for me personally,” he said. 

“You can just move on knowing what you did wrong and being like, ‘Okay, I'm going to be better today,’” Bote added. “[2020] snuck up on people, and I think a lot of grace should be given to how people handled last year.

“It was a tough year for everybody, and some people more than others, but you go, ‘Okay, did I learn something from it?’ And I think that's the most important thing.”

Bote, who revealed the undisclosed ailment he encountered last September was a lower back issue that flared up while fielding ground balls, is confident in himself and his abilities, adding the same is true for Hoerner and Vargas.

But no matter who wins the everyday job out of camp and what role the three infielders are in, that team-first perspective will continue ringing true, he noted.

“All of our mindsets are 'What can we do to help the team win?'” he said. “Whatever’s asked of us, I know everybody’s going to be there cheering each other on.

“We’re battling it out, but we’re close people and close teammates that want to get each other better and we want to make the team better.”

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