"Super Joe does it again."
That's how Cubs manager Dale Sveum described Joe Mather's pinch-hit home run in Friday's win over the Dodgers.
And you know what? It's a nickname that might as well stick.
Mather got an invite to Cubs spring camp as a 29-year-old journeyman utility player who had never really stuck in the Majors. He had an outside chance of making the roster initially, but a stellar spring made Mather the logical choice for the final bench spot.
All he's done with the opportunity is post a 1.11 OPS and .346 AVG.
Mather, who can play all three outfield spots as well as first and third base, hit the first home run from a Cubs outfielder on the season April 29 in Philadelphia and followed that up with a pinch-hit opposite-field home run Friday against the Dodgers. His solo shot proved to be the difference in a 5-4 ballgame.
That wasn't the only time Mather has used his bat to help the Cubs pick up a win. On April 23 against the Cardinals, Mather came through with a two-out, two-run single to give the Cubs a walk-off victory over their biggest rivals and the reigning World Series champions.
Mather has endeared himself to his teammates and coaches in the past three months and while he won't maintain this offensive pace, he should still be a very valuable bench player for the Cubs as the season wears on.
Mather doesn't do anything particularly good, but he's a very fundamentally sound player that can provide some pop and grinds out each at-bat. He came up in the Cardinals' system, where they put a premium on fundamentals and discipline at the plate.
If he keeps coming through with clutch hits, it may not be long until the bleacher bums at Wrigley start holding up signs for "Super Joe" to hit it to them.