So I just stumbled across this article about Jorge Cantu and his bounce-back campaign in 2011. I like Cantu and I like the acquisition, assuming that he can be the insurance, and/or RBI machine we need. If the NL is about bench and bullpen he's the kind of bench you want...right? Well that's when reading this story got me a little concerned.
"You’re expecting to play and all of a sudden you’re not playing," Cantu said. "That left a little sour taste."
I expect Cantu to be a professional and accept his role as a veteran on the bench who will get plenty of playing time. My concern is that he will tire of it down the stretch. I know I'm no authority on the psyche of a pro but I remember what it felt like to go from a starter to bench player in high school ball. Once you see someone else struggle, you expect to get back in there. When you don't get back in, you start to resent your coaches for not recognizing your ability. Cantu knows he's good and he knows the way he can produce.
"As long as I get those at bats, that’s the most important part. I’ve been an RBI man for the past three years and don’t have any plans to back off or stop it."
That just doesn't sound like a guy who is ready to take a back seat. That could be a good thing, maybe he takes ownership of the offense and becomes a pivotal leader, a la Jerry Hairston Jr....only, there's also the chance that it doesn't work out that way. After all, Hairston only got that opportunity due to injuries. And, although they're likely to happen, he can't just be hoping for them.
Now with the Padres, Cantu is ready to get at bats wherever manager Bud Black plays him. He is expected to see playing time at first, second and third base.
If Cantu has any sort of success this year in his role off the bench but guys like Aaron Cunningham or Eric Patterson do too, I figure him to be the odd man out come the trading deadline. He will be the chip that gets us whatever piece we need to make our run.