Notes: Bote's fit; Brothers, Steele optioned

August 6th, 2020

One of the first things Cubs manager David Ross said to in Spring Training went something like this: “What do you need from me?” Bote had an answer.

“What I really would love is just communication [about] how you want to use me,” Bote said. At the time, Ross said, “I don’t really know how it’s going to shake out.”

The Cubs had all kinds of depth at second base with the signing of veteran Jason Kipnis and with Nico Hoerner preparing for his first full season. Fast forward to Summer Camp, and Ross approached Bote with a plan that gave him a Ben Zobrist-type utility role.

“Sweet, I'm all in,” Bote said.

With the Cubs off to a 10-2 start, Bote has played more third base than second, with six appearances in the starting lineup and two more appearances from the bench. He started at second in Wednesday's 6-1 victory over the Royals, and his turning of a difficult double play in the third inning might have been the key to the game.

“Throughout the clubhouse, people kind of know their role or how they’re going to be used,” Bote said. “And in a general sense, I think it's easier to prepare for situations. I think that open communication has really been awesome.”

Also, Bote’s third Major League season has helped him figure out his own preparation methods. He believes he hurt himself at times last season by overworking and never being satisfied with his game.

“Taking too many ground balls too often,” he said, “and because of that you don't trust yourself. So it’s being smarter with it, trusting myself and trusting my hands. ... You know, if you feel good, get out [of the cage]. It’s all trust. It’s all confidence.”

Bote said some of this season's adjustment process has been in mentally accepting his role, and on days when he’s not in the starting lineup, to project the situation in which he would be used.

“If you're on the bench to start the game, it's really not beneficial to be locked in every single pitch of every single out for eight innings,” he said. “Pick your spots when you're anticipating things to get locked in. Otherwise, you just burn your mental capacity throughout the game.

“By the time you can see your pinch-hit at-bat in the eighth or ninth inning, your adrenaline's gone. Especially [without] fans, you really got to be conscious of your mental state throughout the game.”

Brothers, Steele optioned as rosters slimmed
The Cubs trimmed their roster to 28 by optioning left-handers Rex Brothers and Justin Steele to the team’s South Bend, Ind., alternate training site. MLB teams were required to trim their rosters from 30 to 28 on Thursday.

Brothers, 32, pitched 2 1/3 innings and allowed three earned runs in two relief appearances. He’d signed a Minor League contract with the Cubs last December.

Steele, 25, joined the Cubs last weekend, but he didn’t appear in a game. He was a 2014 fifth-round Draft pick and has a 3.62 ERA in 80 Minor League appearances.

Worth noting
• José Quintana threw 35 pitches in a two-inning simulated game Thursday in South Bend. If all goes to plan, his next step will be a bullpen on Saturday.

Quintana's return isn’t imminent, but Ross said, “Everything looked clean. He threw all four pitches. That’s a positive.” Quintana cut a digital sensory nerve in his left thumb in a dishwashing accident at the outset of Summer Camp and had surgery done to repair the laceration on July 2.

• The Cubs signed right-hander Kelvin Herrera and left-hander Matt Dermody to Minor League deals on Thursday. Both pitchers will report to South Bend. Chicago's 60-man player pool is now filled.

• First pitch for the Cubs' game against the Brewers next Thursday at Wrigley Field has been changed to 6:15 p.m. CT to accommodate national television programming. The game will be broadcast exclusively on FOX.

• The Cubs entered play on Thursday having scored 28 runs in the seventh inning or later this season, tied with the Padres for most in the Majors. Chicago's 11 homers and .949 OPS in the seventh inning or later pace the Majors. No other team had more than seven homers at the beginning of play on Thursday. Anthony Rizzo had a 1.417 OPS in 12 plate appearances in the seventh inning or later, the fifth-highest mark in MLB.