GENEVA – Cougars infielder David Bote began the season in Geneva. In a manner of speaking.
He set foot in the home clubhouse at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. He visited and made plans with teammates. He had designs on getting a feel for Chicagoland.
Then the parent Cubs made a roster move just before the April 4 season opener, and back Bote went to extended spring training in Mesa, Ariz. He returned to the Cougars two weeks ago, a grin and an appreciation for the minor league lifestyle in tow.
“That’s kind of how it works, so it’s kind of fun,” Bote said. “You have to be ready at all times. Because you never know what can happen and when it can happen, so always be ready.”
Bote brings the same approach to playing. With the club’s regular infield all but entrenched – first baseman Dan Vogelbach, second baseman Gioskar Amaya, third baseman Jeimer Candelario and shortstop Marco Hernandez go around the horn – he realizes it’s on him to impress whenever he’s in the lineup.
After starting 3 for 9 with the Cougars, Bote has fallen on hard times since, including a 5 for 28 stretch in his past 10 games entering Wednesday.
An 18th-round selection of the Cubs in June out of Neosho County (Kan.) Community College, Bote knows he has a built-in support system when he’s struggling. Righty Pierce Johnson, a first-round sandwich pick in 2012, was two years ahead of Bote at Faith Christian Academy in the Denver suburb of Arvada, Colo.
Bote remembers waiting at the airport before a short-term mission trip to Kenya when his brother texted him that Johnson had been drafted.
He was traveling when his brother broke the news that Bote had joined the Cubs’ system, too.
“I was like, ‘That’s awesome. That’s cool [for Johnson],’ ” Bote said. “And then I was on the flight when I found out that I got drafted. I was in Africa. And my brother goes, ‘Hey, you got drafted by the Cubs also.’ It was kind of a cool kind of thing.”
Bote’s acquisition certainly pleased his father, Bob, who also coached Johnson in American Legion ball. Bob Bote grew up a Cubs fan, crediting WGN for converting him and many in The Centennial State in the years before the Rockies joined Major League Baseball in 1993.
David Bote was 19 days old when the Cubs visited Denver for the first time – on April 26, 1993.
“It’s fun. You go everywhere, and there’s Cubs fans everywhere. It’s all over,” Bote said. “And they’re like, ‘I know somebody who likes the Cubs,’ or, ‘My family loves the Cubs.’ It’s nationwide, for sure, something that everyone has some part of.”
• Kevin Druley is a sports writer for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or firstname.lastname@example.org.