Jake Fox was finally summoned to Wrigley Field today after putting up obscene numbers at Class AAA Iowa. Now the Cubs must find a place for the defensively challenged Fox to play.
He can play left field, right field, first base, third base and catcher -- his original position. For the game today against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he is starting off on the bench, where manager Lou Piniella feels he can be a valuable pinch hitter for a lineup that needs some pop. Fox was hitting .423 with 17 home runs, 50 RBI, 40 runs, a .503 on-base percentage and .886 slugging percentage.
And what took so long for him to finally get the call?
''I'm short, fat, I'm fighting against maybe a little athleticism issues,'' Fox said.
Fox will also likely serve as the Cubs' designated hitter for interleague games at American League parks. Here is a question-and-answer session conducted this morning with Fox, one of the most likable players in baseball.
Question: How do you explain your fast start?
Answer: We were playing well as a team and I think that is one of the things that made it enjoyable for me down there. We had a great team down there. We had a lot of fun down there and that always makes it easy to play.
It was a matter of being more consistent and taking it one day at a time. That has always been a criticism of me, being very aggressive at the plate, not being consistent. And I really want to take a perfect picture of it and concentrate on one day at a time, having good at-bats one at-bat at a time, one pitch at a time. It makes it a lot easier when you're not concentrating on the big picture. You're just concentrating on doing what it takes to win that game. That's overall what really contributed to my great start.
Q: How many different positions have you been playing at Iowa?
A: I played five. I played my normal first base and right field. I also got some starts in left field. I got a start at third base. Got two starts behind the plate again, so they finally put me back to being a catcher for two games. It was a blast from the past. I got to catch J.R. Mathes one game and I got to catch Mitch Atkins.
I had a blast just getting back there. It brought back some great memories. It was a lot of fun.
Q: Where do you feel most comfortable?
A: I've had the most innings at first base. But really, once you get out from being behind the plate -- and I've been moved around so much, just being out on the field, it's catch the ball and throw it where it needs to go. So I wouldn't say I feel most comfortable at any one position. You get used to that feeling after a while of just being out at a position where you're not used to playing because you're never really in the same spot. And I think it becomes a comfortable feeling when you're not comfortable there -- if that makes any sense.
He kept moving me around because he had no idea if I was going to get called up and where I would play if I did get called up.
It made it a lot of fun because you showed up every day and you never knew where you were going to be in the lineup, never knew what position where you were going to be playing. It made it pretty interesting to show up every day and see what number is going to be next to your name.
Q: Did manager Lou Piniella indicate where you will play?
A: It really doesn't matter to me. I came up here and I'm going to keep doing the same things I've been doing and hopefully the chips will fall in the same places.
Q: Could you handle third base?
A: It's the difference between what I think and what they think. I feel comfortable there. I feel the start I had, I felt I played well there. It's just a different spot. In the last three years, I've learned four different positions. It's the same kind of feeling as learning those other positions. I had a good game there. Will I make some mistakes there? Yes I would because I haven't had a lot of innings there, but with the time and hard work, I could play anywhere on the field.
Maybe they have a different story because I'm short, fat, I'm fighting against maybe a little athleticism issues. But I think I could if I had enough innings and enough hard work there.
Q: How did your solid spring training help with you confidence?
A: It helped out a lot. I think it helped out mainly from the standpoint where it showed them what I was capable of doing on a regular basis. They gave me a lot of innings this year. Not only were they trying to get me innings, but they were also trying to market me a little bit and that really helped me out a lot trying to get me more prepared. So coming into the season, I felt like I was in midseason shape because I had so many at-bats in spring training.
Q: Did you ever get impatient at Iowa?
A: I would be lying if I said I didn't. But I talked a lot with our manager Bobby Dickerson and he said, 'Look, you can only control your job and what you can control every day.' That's why every day this year, I went out and concentrated on that day that I was playing and never looked at the overall picture. That's one of the reasons I got off to that start.
He told me, 'If you need to know something, I'll tell you.' So I never really looked at any of the articles, I didn't look at any Web sites. I didn't pay attention to any of that. I just said, I'm going to show up every day, do my job and if it happens, it happens.
Q: Was your hot start beyond your expectations?
A: Yeah, any time you start off like that, it's a great surprise. But I feel like I have carried over from the end of last season, through winter ball and spring training. I feel like I've gotten my swing where I need it to be. There is still some improvement yet to be made, but I feel very consistent at the plate. I feel like I have a consistent approach every time and I think that is what is contributing to my consistency at the plate on a daily basis.
Q: You realize Cubs fans will have big expectations for you.
A: It's going to happen. It's a big-market team and Cubs fans are always looking for answers, but the answers are right here in the clubhouse. They have a great team here, they have great players. Hopefully, I can give them a spark and get them going again. They are a very talented team. I just hope I can fill a role and help them win some games.