Blake DeWitt getting acclimated with Cubs

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MESA, ARIZ. (AP) - Blake DeWitt reserves his mornings before workouts for crossword puzzles. It’s been that way for a couple of years.

“Doing them just to do them,” the Chicago Cubs infielder said. “Kind of getting into the routine of doing one every day.”

No surprise there. DeWitt is trying to get acclimated in his first spring training with the Cubs. Chicago acquired DeWitt from the Los Angeles Dodgers for second baseman Ryan Theriot and pitcher Ted Lilly. DeWitt was caught by surprise when informed he’d been dealt, but said he “had a lot of fun with it.”

DeWitt is expected to platoon with Jeff Baker this season with DeWitt seeing the majority of action against left-handers.

“It’s just different. Hard to explain,” DeWitt said. “I’d been with one team forever, not that it was that long, but that’s the only team I knew.”

DeWitt’s rise to a prominent role with the Dodgers came quickly. The 28th overall pick in the first round of the 2004 draft, he was rushed to a big league role in 2008 because of injuries.

He was the opening-day starter at third base even though he never played above Double-A. DeWitt shuttled back and forth between the Dodgers and Triple-A Las Vegas, then Albuquerque, in 2008 and ‘09, before becoming the Dodgers‘ starting second baseman in 2010.

“I like second better because you’re just more involved,” DeWitt said. “There’s still a lot of work to do.”

In 2010, DeWitt’s hit .270 in 82 games for the Dodgers with only seven errors and hit .250 with 22 RBIs in 53 games for the Cubs.

DeWitt, who has adjusted his approach at the plate with Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, will start at second base and bat eighth in the Cubs‘ first game of spring training Sunday.

“I’d love to see him working the middle of the field,” manager Mike Quade said of DeWitt. “He looked to me when we first got him a little pull-happy in his approach, which more times than not, may allow him to drive the ball out of the ballpark. but his average will suffer. I’d like to see him use the whole field.”

Heading into his second full season in the majors, DeWitt reported to a different spring training facility on the opposite end of Valley of the Sun. The Dodgers‘ camp is in Glendale.

“It’s important that I’m starting the year off here, it’s a great place to play and a great group of guys,” DeWitt said of the Cubs.

Notes: Quade named his scheduled starting lineup for the Cubs‘ spring training opener against Oakland on Sunday in Mesa. It’s RF Kosuke Fukudome leading off, followed by SS Starlin Castro, CF Marlon Byrd, 3B Aramis Ramirez, 1B Carlos Pena, LF Alfonso Soriano, C Geovany Soto, DeWitt and P Carlos Zambrano. Quade expressed a preference for Fukudome as leadoff hitter based on how he finished last season, even though Fukudome batted .193 in the top spot in 2010. … Position players will have a two at-bat minimum, five-inning maximum as far as playing time in spring training games, at least early, Quade said. … Immediately following Friday’s workout at Fitch Park, the Cubs packed their equipment and gear and moved less than a mile away to HoHoKam Park, where they play home spring training games and will work out Saturday.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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