PHOENIX – David DeJesus returned just in time to showcase his leadoff skills and solid defense to any contending team that might need outfield help.
The last image was DeJesus crashing into the Citi Field wall on June 14 in New York and spraining his right shoulder. He came off the disabled list on Wednesday and rejoined a Cubs team that looks so much different now. He understood the trade rumors would start all over again.
DeJesus, 33, has a home in Wheaton and a $6.5 million club option for next season that would make him attractive to a wide range of teams, including the Cubs. But with the July 31 non-waiver deadline rapidly approaching, he has no control over what happens next.
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“I love Chicago,” DeJesus said before going 2-for-6 with two runs scored in a 7-6, 12-inning win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. “I want to be here. I want to be with the team when they win the championship.”
The Cubs front office tries to remove all emotions from the equation and won’t keep DeJesus around for sentimental reasons. But the first free agent signed by the Theo Epstein administration – a two-year, $10 million value signing – has been the all-around player they expected (.354 career on-base percentage).
“I’ve told him over the years, and as recently as (Tuesday), how much I appreciate his mentorship of younger players,” Epstein said. “This is an established veteran player who goes on rehab to the Arizona Rookie League and is actively taking those 18-year-old kids under his wing and running in from the outfield because one of them forgot his sunglasses. (DeJesus gets) it for him.
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“He’s running hard 90 feet down first base to show those kids what it looks like when a big-leaguer plays the game the right way. So that’s really impressive. It had nothing to do with being traded or not traded, but I wanted to thank him for that. That means a lot. That makes us a better organization when you have guys doing something like that.
“He’s just a really good baseball player that has lived up to his contract. He’s a left-handed bat who has the exact approach we’re trying to teach in this organization.
“Would that make him untouchable? No, no one’s untouchable. (But) we’ll weigh out the options (and see) what’s best for the Cubs.”
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Epstein actually tried to acquire DeJesus for the Boston Red Sox in another deadline deal in July 2010, before the outfielder sprained his thumb colliding with a Yankee Stadium wall chasing a ball hit by Derek Jeter.
“There were talks (where) I think Tampa Bay, San Fran and Boston wanted me,” DeJesus said. “Next thing you know, I make a crazy play in New York.”
Now that DeJesus is healthy, he knows the noise is going to get louder.
“All we can do is just go out there and play the game,” DeJesus said. “Things are going to come up and people are going to say things. My name’s been in the rumors before, so it’s nothing new. (You) just got to be professional.”