Cub Infield Shakeups Plague Ivan DeJesus


CHICAGO -- The trades the Chicago Cubs have engineered in recent years in an attempt to build a winner may be pleasing for the fans and interesting for the media but they have left shortstop Ivan DeJesus with a sour feeling.

DeJesus has been the anchor on a Cub infield which has been jiggled several times since the 28-year old Puerto Rico native was obtained by Chicago from Los Angeles in 1977.


DeJesus' major gripe is that it has been difficult to develop a potent double play combination because he has had to work with a different second baseman in each of his five seasons with the Cubs.

'The transition hasn't been easy. You've got to know what the other guy is going to do,' DeJesus explained. 'All of these trades are supposed to help the team but I'll be glad when they settle on one second baseman, once and for all.'


The infield roulette may also partially explain DeJesus slow start at the plate this season. He won't use that alibi but his problems at bat also have reflected on his play in the field.

The problem is not confined to his keystone partner, DeJesus added. The Cubs have made almost as many personnel moves at third base as they have at second.

'But that isn't as critical as the second baseman. The third baseman, he gets whah PJ FB B H NJh,' DeJesus added. 'It isn't as difficult adjusting to that.'

The latest partners with DeJesus on the infield figure to stay there for some time if Manager Joey Amalfitano has his way. Ken Reitz, who set a National League record for fewest errors at third last year with St. Louis, joins DeJesus on the left side of the infield.

But even Reitz was replaced by Heity Cruz at one point during the first month of what appears to be a very long season for Chicago.

At the all-important second base slot most of the time was Joe Strain, acquired from San Fransisco last season.

Strain won the job over four others, including DeJesus' partner last year, Mike Tyson.

'I don't know Strain that well,' DeJesus conceded. 'It's going to take some time to work with him. It's going to be a little rough at first.'


But Strain came to the Cubs with a reputation of being a slick fielder and he said he is looking forward to teaming with DeJesus.

'Part of the key is that you get to play,' Strain said. 'If you are in and out of the lineup like I was in San Fransisco, it is more difficult to team up.'

Strain was hurt last month and replaced by Tyson. Strain returned to the lineup last week but like most of the Cubs, is off to a slow start at the plate.

DeJesus has been about the only Cub in the past two years to escape rumors of possible trades to other teams. General Manager Bob Kennedy has consistently labeled DeJesus as the lone 'untouchable' on the Chicago roster.

'It's flattering when you hear people you work for say that,' DeJesus said. 'I like it here. I know it can be distracting when you read that you may go here and may go there. I've been traded once before, you know.'

DeJesus came to the Cubs in the deal along with first baseman Bill Buckner that sent Rick Monday to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

DeJesus has been Chicago's most consistent performer since 1977, averaging .270 and stealing 133 bases.


The 5-foot-11 shortstop hopes the trades the Cubs have made in the offseason will allow for more stealing.

'I think we've gone the wrong way in the past, going for power,' DeJesus noted. 'I think we've got some guys who can run now. I think that's what we need to do.'

DeJesus has been given a green light by Amalfitano to steal at liberty.

'That's a real confidence builder,' said DeJesus, who stole 44 bases last year.

DeJesus has not received as much attention as some of the other top shortstops in the league like Garry Templeton of St. Louis or Dave Concepcion of Cincinnati.

That hasn't bothered him.

'It doesn't matter, really. I'd like to be on an all-star team, a World Series winner, but I've got a job to do and I do it the best I can,' DeJesus explained. 'I want to win and I want to do the best I can. Maybe this year will be the year someone notices, but if they don't, I'm not going to worry about it.'

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