01/02/09 4:20 PM EST
DeRosa excited to open Tribe chapter
Indians' recent acquisition expected to make transition to third
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com
On the day of the trade, manager Eric Wedge said he'd allow DeRosa to play for Team USA. Wedge also said he figures to use DeRosa in the corner outfield at times and, potentially, at second base. The Indians will have flexibility in their infield, with Jhonny Peralta's apparent ability to move from shortstop to third and Asdrubal Cabrera's ability to shift from second to short.Reports are mixed on DeRosa's skills at third. Some scouts feel third is his best infield position, while others claim it's his worst. For what it's worth, the transition from second to third does not worry DeRosa in the least. "I don't think there's going to be any difference, to be honest," he said. "They are two entirely different positions, but it's something I've done for so long. The toughest transition for me was second base -- learning how to make the pivots on the double plays and being in different bunt plays and different scenarios on cutoffs. I think the transition back to the left side will be a smooth one." The outfield, on the other hand, has him less confident. He was asked if he has a best spot in the outfield. "I really don't think I have a best one," he said with a laugh. "But if you can play right field in Wrigley on a windy day with the sun in your eyes, I think I'll be able to get it done." Wrigley's cozy confines are perceived to have aided DeRosa's power numbers, though he only hit one more homer at home (11) than he did on the road (10) last season. The more startling stat is the homer total, in general. His previous career-high, before the 21 he hit last season, was the 13 he hit with the Rangers in 2006. "I feel like I've gotten better as a hitter over the course of my career," DeRosa said. "I've been around some great hitters and had a great hitting coach in Texas who really changed my career. I've been blessed to be around guys like Chipper Jones and Michael Young. I've picked the brains of the great players I've been around. I'm confident when I got to the plate that I have a game plan and will give myself the best chance to be successful." DeRosa said it "stung" to leave a Cubs team that he felt was finally close to getting over that championship hump. The Indians, of course, are enduring that same ongoing struggle, and DeRosa believes the Tribe has the pieces to be successful. One of the newest pieces is closer Kerry Wood, and his presence on the roster certainly will make the transition easier on DeRosa. "He was one of the guys I was closest to in Chicago and one of the first calls I received when the trade went down," DeRosa said. "For selfish reasons, he's excited, but he said he'd give it a couple days to sink in before we had a real conversation." DeRosa is also planning on having an extended conversation with his new bosses. "I've heard nothing but great things about the manager," he said. "I plan on flying up next week sometime and going out to dinner with Mark Shapiro and Eric Wedge and getting to know them and getting them to meet my family as well." Perhaps they'll offer up an apology for what they did to DeRosa's golf game.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.