La Stella taking cautious approach with calf

March 23rd, 2016

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Tommy La Stella played his second straight game in the field Wednesday, although it was a Minor League contest. The Cubs have been careful with the infielder this spring as he nurses a strained left calf.

"It's just making sure I'm completely symptom-free, especially in games that don't mean anything, so we make sure that come [regular-season] time, we're good to go," La Stella said Wednesday. "To be honest, I think it's important to be overly cautious. You want to be geared up for the 162 [games in the regular season]."

La Stella is one of 10 infielders remaining on the Cubs' spring camp roster, which includes non-roster invitee Munenori Kawasaki.

• Spring:Tickets | Schedule | More

"He's a good baseball player," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Kawasaki. "He's a great fit. He's a great fit on any team, because he's a real fundamental baseball player. What you're seeing now is not flukish. I saw it in Toronto. I did not want to see him in a game, based on his abilities and his energy. He works a good at-bat, can bunt. He's been almost flawless on defense, he runs well.

"It's not a fluke -- everybody looks at him because he's entertaining, but he's good," Maddon said. "He's also good. Don't underestimate him."

The Cubs are still sorting out who will be on the bench. Could Kawasaki be that guy?

"More than likely it'd almost be an injury situation to dislodge [someone else]," Maddon said. "I'm just being honest. I also know that if he was part of this group, I'd be really happy about it in a heartbeat. And everybody else would be, too."

• This season, catcher Kyle Schwarber could be matched with pitcher Jason Hammel. Maddon liked what he saw from Tuesday's game, when Schwarber and Hammel were paired together, and the manager was watching more than what was happening on the field.

"Watching them interact during the course of the game and between innings, there's definitely a connection going on there," Maddon said. "I liked what I saw. We all liked what we saw."

Schwarber has been working with the catchers and the outfielders this spring. The key thing is to keep his bat in the lineup as much as possible.

"The guy loves it, he works his butt off at it," Maddon said of Schwarber's double-duty role.

• So far this spring, Trevor Cahill has started a game, pitched in the middle, and, on Tuesday, he was the closer. Maddon recalled a conversation he had last year with the right-hander in Chicago.

"I walked up to him, and I put my hands on his knees, and told him, 'You could get the last three outs of any game -- you know that, don't you?' That's how I feel about this guy," Maddon said. "This guy is so versatile. It's kind of like having a [Ben Zobrist] in your bullpen or on your pitching staff. He really can do anything. You can start him, you can middle him, you can late him, you can close with him. If he's throwing strikes and he's rested, he's really good."

• On Friday, the Cubs wives will hold their annual spring fundraiser to benefit Cubs Charities and Paz de Cristo Community Center in Mesa. For $40, fans can purchase a "mystery ball" which is autographed by one of the players. There also will be bats, helmets, signed jerseys, game-used jerseys, hats, #WeAreGood T-shirts and more. Plus, fans can bid on the car windshield that Schwarber broke in batting practice this spring. Schwarber did sign the windshield.