Tommy La Stella is healthy and ready to compete for a spot on the roster after a disappointing first year with the Cubs.
La Stella hit .269/.324/.403/.727 in 67 at bats with six doubles, one home run, five walks and six strikeouts. Seven of La Stella’s 18 hits went for extra bases.
Defensively, the Cubs had him split time at second (14 games) and third base (12). But where he had the most success was off the bench. As a pinch hitter, La Stella was 6-for-14 (.429/.467/.571) with two doubles, a walk and a strikeout.
Tommy La Stella reported to his second camp with the Cubs in better shape than last year due to a medically recommended change to his diet.
According to Mark Gonzales, La Stella “reported with a much leaner physique after medical tests suggested a change would be beneficial.”
“The biggest emphasis was the nutrition aspect of it,” La Stella told the Tribune. “I got some blood work done and it showed intolerance to certain foods that are good for you but I was happening to eat on a regular basis that weren’t reacting well to my body. So we eliminated those, and it’s making a big difference.”
La Stella did not say which foods he now avoids but athletes that have switched to a gluten-free diet have made similar comments.
Joe Maddon loves what La Stella brings to the team offensively. Maddon said Tuesday, “He’s one of those dudes who could get up at 3 o’clock in the morning and hit anything.” La Stella makes contact and has shown he knows how to put together a professional at bat.
La Stella will see time this spring at second and third base again. And he could also play a little first base in order to give Maddon as many options as possible. The Cubs have not mentioned if he will play any outfield but if he does, La Stella would become the younger and more cost-effective version of Chris Coghlan.
Tommy La Stella has three minor league options left which creates roster flexibility for the front office.
A left-handed hitter that can make contact off the bench is a valuable option for a team to have. Keep an eye on Tommy La Stella when the Cactus League games begin to see how Joe Maddon uses him in the field.