Cubs: Hairston deal could be the end for fan favorite Campana

Epstein, Hoyer, Sveum on 2013 expectations

Cubs: Hairston deal could be the end for fan favorite Campana
February 10, 2013, 4:15 pm
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MESA, Ariz. – It looks like Cubs fans will have to say goodbye and get used to seeing Tony Campana in a different uniform.

The Cubs now have 10 days to either trade Campana or put him on waivers after designating him for assignment to make room for outfielder Scott Hairston on the 40-man roster.

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The Cubs finalized the language on Hairston’s two-year, $5 million contract on Sunday, which could mean the end for the 5-foot-8-inch fan favorite who stole 30 bases last season.

“It was a difficult call,” team president Theo Epstein said. “We hope we can still keep him in the organization. That would be the best outcome, if there was some way for that to happen. Obviously, he’s one of the best baserunners in the league and could be a weapon for a contending team in a certain role.”

In the right setting, Campana could be valuable for a 90-win team that needs to steal a base and score a run to win a game. Teammates also love his energy and enthusiasm. The day before, he had been spotted working out at Fitch Park with Anthony Rizzo and David DeJesus, jumping rope outside the weight room.

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All that excitement about his speed led to Campana questions sometimes dominating the fan sessions with management during last month’s Cubs Convention.  

But coming off a 101-loss season, the Cubs don’t really need a one-dimensional player, nearing his 27th birthday, with one home run – inside the park – and 19 walks in 347 career plate appearances.   

Hairston gives manager Dale Sveum another option to play mix-and-match in the outfield along with DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz. Hairston generated 20 homers, 25 doubles and 57 RBI in 134 games with the New York Mets last season, seeing action in left, right and center.

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General manager Jed Hoyer knows Hairston from their time together with the San Diego Padres. Their 2010 team surprised everyone by winning 90 games, and Hairston is widely known as a good clubhouse influence.

“It gives us a lot of versatility in the outfield,” Hoyer said. “He’s a guy that’s proven he can hit left-handed pitching and be one of the best platoon guys in the game.”

Epstein indicated that the Cubs are now “pretty much set,” that this is the group you will see once camp starts this week. Other than tweaking the roster in late March when players hit waivers, or filling holes if injuries strike, you shouldn’t expect a game-changing move this spring.