Cubs’ David Bote wins starting second base job, beating Nico Hoerner

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Tim Stebbins
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Bote wins starting second base job, beating Hoerner originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Cubs manager David Ross made it clear: The winner of the club’s second base competition had less to do with Nico Hoerner and more to do with David Bote.

And starting Opening Day, Bote will be the Cubs’ everyday second baseman. 

“It’s an opportunity that David has earned, he deserves,” Ross said Saturday. 

Bote, Hoerner, Eric Sogard and Ildemaro Vargas have been competing for the starting second base job this spring. Each of the four has put up impressive numbers at the plate, but it was Bote who earned the job, Ross said.

The Cubs optioned Hoerner to Triple-A on Saturday. Sogard, a non-roster invitee this spring, has made the Opening Day roster, according to Ross. It's the first time in recent memory the Cubs will open a season without a platoon at a position.

RELATED: Cubs’ roster all but set with cuts of Miller, Hoerner, Strop

Bote, 27, has impressed this spring, going 12-for-38 (.316) with three home runs. He’s always hit well off the bench since debuting in 2018 — memorably hitting a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam that season — but has never gotten the chance to play every day.

“This is a chance for David to play every day and get real at-bats and we’ll see what we got in David Bote,” Ross said. “If anything goes wrong or anybody gets hurt, then Nico’s next man in line.”

Ross expressed confidence in Hoerner, who’s hitting .361 this spring, calling him a “future Gold Glover and All-Star.” But with Bote earning the starting job, the Cubs didn’t want to impact the 23-year-old’s development by giving him sporadic playing time off the bench. 

The Triple-A season is delayed until May and the 2020 alternate-site format will return, though this time with games against other teams scheduled.

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t tough to break the news to the young infielder. Ross said he didn’t feel like himself Friday, the conversation with Hoerner weighing on his shoulders.

Ross spoke highly of the way Hoerner handled the demotion and knows he’ll use it as motivation to prove people wrong. But he also understands the natural disappointment Hoerner felt in not making the club.

“It hurts when you want to be on the team, and it sucks not to make the team when you put in all the work and feel like you’re in a really good place,” Ross said. “It’s a f—-king terrible feeling. I know it is. But he handled it like the professional he is.”

The Cubs talked at length about the second base job, Ross said, and Hoerner's performance this spring caused some back and forth in those conversations. Ultimately, Bote's performance stood out.

RELATED: Wittenmyer: Behold the one time Cubs didn’t manipulate system

"It's David's turn. It's David's turn," Ross said. "I think David's been hearing that message for a long time, that it’s somebody else's turn. It's not your turn. Now David gets an opportunity.

"I'm excited for David Bote. As bad as my heart hurts for Nico Hoerner, I'm also equally excited for David Bote."

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