David Bote’s journey with the Cubs over the last four years has been a unique one. He burst onto the scene in 2018 after his walk-off grand slam against the Nationals and establishing himself as a Major Leaguer. Bote looked like he was on his way to getting shot sooner rather than later.
Despite his early success, the 27-year-old infielder hadn’t gotten an opportunity to play everyday, which is the goal of every big leaguer. While he settled nicely into his role coming off the Cubs’ bench, 2021 opened a new door.
Bote got a real opportunity to win the Cubs’ second-base job during spring training and not only did perform well during the camp, he won the job. While having the job after his journey is still setting in.
“If you tell nine-year old David, he’s probably freaking out,” Bote told the Sun-Times. “But as you go through this process, and start learning about yourself, you start pushing the boundaries of your capabilities and growing. I use this analogy of just being a river and just going. You continue to move, continue to grow. You go over boulders, you go under bridges, you make your path, every once in a while, you’re going to kind of go into a lake, and you pool up and overflow and keep moving into the sea. It’s kind of how I picture the journey and enjoying that process.
“All those cliches, for me, are not cliches. That’s real. One of the things I reflected on was that I got a long way to go. But also, look how far I’ve come. That’s kind of a moment thing. And then you move out of it and you go, ‘Alright, this moment, now. Let’s push it. Let’s keep pushing yourself, keep pushing your mind.’ That’s how I’ve approached it these last couple months.”
Winning the job is only half the battle, keeping the job is the other half of the equation. The Cubs have given Bote the keys to the job at second base, but they’ve also built depth at the position. Infielder Eric Sogard is currently the backup second baseman and Hoerner, who many believe is the future, is waiting in the wings at the team’s alternate site.
“It’s David Bote’s turn,” manager David Ross said. “I think David had been hearing the message for a long time that it’s someone else’s turn. So now David gets an opportunity.”
Knowing that players are waiting to take a job if you falter can affect a player’s psyche. Bote is self-admittedly more into the mental aspect of the game at this point in his four-year career with mental strength being one of the things that he feels helps reap success. Something that Cubs’ hitting coach Anthony Iapoce is also a big proponent of.
But even players who are locked-in mentally have to balance their results and on-field success, especially in a performance-based business like baseball, right?
“I’ve tried balancing it, and it doesn’t work [for me],” he said. “I have to go all-in [mentally] or nothing. I can’t control [numbers]. That’s a trap of pressing and getting caught up on results. I can’t control that. Today does not care about yesterday’s successes, and it does not care about yesterday’s failures. Today’s the only day that I can control. I can’t even control if I hit the ball hard or if he’s gonna throw me a strike or if it’s a hit or an out.
“So to try and balance that with this being a results-based business, I can’t. I can’t balance it. I’m going all-in on one way.”