Restovich signs with the Cubs
Chicago GM says Rochester OF will get plenty of chances in camp
By Troy Young
Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry kept calling and Michael Restovich kept listening.
Restovich, a Rochester native, signed with the Cubs and will compete for a major league roster spot in spring training in February.
That he signed with a major league team did not come as a surprise to Restovich, who spent parts of last year with the Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Colorado Rockies, and Pittsburgh Pirates. After hitting .337 with seven home runs for Magellanes in a Venezuelan winter baseball league, Restovich spent the last couple of weeks talking to a handful of major league teams.
In addition to the Cubs, the Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, and Boston Red Sox all expressed interest. But after endless conversations with Hendry, as well as consultation with Austin graduate Mike Wuertz, a relief pitcher for the Cubs, Restovich chose Chicago.
"I think what finally sold me -- besides the opportunity I'll get to play in spring training -- was numerous calls from (Hendry)," Restovich said. "They were calls that they'd love to have me on the major league team."
It was the first time during Restovich's nine-year professional baseball career where he could decide who he would play for. He was released by the Twins near the end of spring training last March, picked up by Tampa for a couple of days, then released and claimed off waivers by Colorado, who eventually traded him to Pittsburgh. He hit just .214 with two home runs in 52 games with the Pirates, who issued him his outright release last month.
"At this point of my career, all I really want in spring training is an opportunity," Restovich said. "For the first time in my career, my play will dictate if I make the team. The Cubs told me that. They said if I don't make the team, it won't be because I didn't get a chance in spring training.
"I don't need to say bad words about the Twins, but there were years when I played well in spring training, but it had already been written down who was going to make the team before the spring even started. For the first time, I can dictate through my play whether or not I'm going to be in the big leagues."
Restovich reports to Cubs' training camp in February.