SAN FRANCISCO – Nate Schierholtz keeps his two World Series rings in a safe deposit box in the Bay Area.
As Schierholtz returned to the other side of AT&T Park, reporters reminded the Cubs outfielder of the trade deadline hanging over his head and the potential chance to jump to a contending team.
“I haven’t spent a second thinking about that,” Schierholtz said. “Every year you hear so many names thrown around.”
It became reality on July 31 last summer, when the San Francisco Giants shipped him to the Philadelphia Phillies in the Hunter Pence deal. His ex-teammates voted him a full playoff share. The organization that drafted and developed him would give him another ring to match the one from 2010.
[WATCH: Schierholtz is on fire]
Schierholtz answered back in the ninth inning on Saturday night, lifting Sergio Romo’s 3-2 pitch high into the black sky. It landed in the right-field seats, giving the Cubs a 1-0 victory in front of another sellout crowd.
“I always loved playing here,” Schierholtz said. “I love the fans here. I couldn’t have asked for a better reception. I’ve had a lot of people come up to me the last few days saying they miss me here and that’s something I really take to heart. I’ve had a lot of ups here and some downs, not playing a whole lot. It’s just nice to know that people care.
“Maybe they think that I got a little bit of revenge.”
The Cubs (47-55) received seven shutout innings from lefty Chris Rusin – who’s trying to solidify a spot in the rotation after the Matt Garza trade – before Pedro Strop and Kevin Gregg (21 saves) escaped bases-loaded jams in the eighth and ninth.
“Like Houdini out there,” Rusin said.
Schierholtz has reemerged after receiving an extended All-Star break and a cortisone shot for his shoulder, hitting .400 (10-for-25) with three homers and nine RBI on this road trip. Just in time for another round of trade rumors. Theo Epstein’s front office isn’t done after dealing 40 percent of the rotation and convincing Alfonso Soriano to go to the New York Yankees.
“It’s not like you complain if you’re going to go to a winning team – like Sori – and a chance to win another ring,” Schierholtz said. “But at the same time, I feel fortunate to be here. They believe in me here and they’ve given me an opportunity to play. I’m happy here.”
The Yankees and Boston Red Sox were among the teams that showed interest in Schierholtz before he signed a one-year, $2.25 million contract with the Cubs last December. He wasn’t interested in a multi-year deal, wanting to show he could be a regular. He’s hitting .281 with 14 homers, 43 RBI and an .876 OPS.
There is logic in keeping Schierholtz, who is only 29 years old, a plus defender and under club control next season as an arbitration-eligible player. But he understands this is a business.
“Last year was a big shock,” Schierholtz said. “When it’s your first time you never expect it to happen. Then it happens and I was shocked for a little bit. Like I’ve said for the last week: Ideally, I don’t want to go anywhere. I want to be part of the future here. I’m not overthinking it.”