Watkins makes major league debut vs. Dodgers

Watkins makes major league debut vs. Dodgers
August 4, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Paul LaTour

Logan Watkins didn’t recognize the number from an incoming call Saturday night, so he didn’t answer his phone. Luckily for him, the caller was persistent and this time Watkins picked up.

It was his manager, Marty Pevey of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, calling to tell Watkins he was on his way to the major leagues.

“It was crazy,” Watkins said. “To be honest I didn’t have (Pevey’s) number in my phone so he called once and I (said) ‘What number is this?’ so I didn’t answer. He called again so I answered and he said I was going. I thought he might have been joking, but he was serious.”

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Watkins, the Cubs’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2012, will make his major-league debut Sunday, starting at second base for the Cubs in the series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He fills the roster spot created when the Cubs placed infielder Luis Valbuena on the 15-day disabled list Sunday, retroactive to Saturday. Watkins was on the Cubs’ 40-man roster and attended Cubs spring training prior to playing the season in Iowa.

Watkins, 23, earned accolades last season with Tennessee, his first at the Double-A level. He batted .281 with 93 runs scored, 20 doubles, 11 triples, nine home runs and 52 RBI in 133 games. He added a .383 on-base percentage and .422 slugging percentage for an .805 OPS.

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This year has been more of a struggle for Watkins, a Wichita, Kan., native taken in the 21st-round by the Cubs in the 2008 draft. With the Iowa Cubs, Watkins was batting .243 with 18 doubles, seven triples, eight home runs and 26 RBI.

“This is the first year I’ve ever hit leadoff,” Watkins said at his new stall in the Cubs clubhouse. “I’ve always been the 2-hole hitter, so I was learning a lot. There were a lot of older guys (in Iowa) that I could talk to and learn from. So it was a good year for me as far as learning a lot and getting better.”

Watkins is joined in the starting lineup Sunday by his Iowa Cubs double-play partner Donnie Murphy, who also makes his Cubs debut.

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“That’s going to be nice having there for a comfort factor,” Watkins said. “He’s a really good shortstop, and I’m excited to be out there with him.”

With an off-day coming Monday, Cubs manager Dale Sveum decided to rest shortstop Starlin Castro and second baseman Darwin Barney, thus giving Murphy and Watkins their opportunities.