Second baseman Richard Lewis, along with pitcher Andy Pratt, came to the Cubs late in Spring Training 2004 from the Atlanta Braves for pitchers Juan Cruz and Steve Smyth. Lewis went on to win Southern League MVP honors by batting .329 through 99 games at AA-West Tenn.
While he enjoyed every bit of his first year with the Cubs (aside from a season-ending leg injury suffered in early September at AAA-Iowa), Lewis says leaving behind the organization he grew up idolizing as a youngster was one of the hardest things he had to do.
“Oh, I was devastated,” said a smiling, somewhat embarrassed Lewis, “especially after growing up in metro Atlanta and going to college at Georgia Tech. Once I got over the initial shock, it was time to move on. Now I’m focused on staying healthy and playing in Chicago. This is definitely a good place to be.”
While Lewis’ .209 batting average at Iowa isn’t where he’d like it to be, the 25-year-old’s defense has remained equally as stellar as his 2004 season, when he committed only five errors the entire year. This season, he has committed five errors.
“I’ve played overly solid defense this year,” Lewis said. “I am proud of that. My defense hasn’t suffered even though I’ve had a little down time at the plate.”
While at the plate, Lewis has had to make the adjustment of batting seventh in the lineup as opposed to his usual everyday 2-spot a season ago at West Tenn. It was his second year of Double-A ball, and Lewis was ranked in the top five in most every statistical category at the time of his early August promotion to Triple-A.
This past May, Lewis went back down to Double-A -- as well as Class-A Daytona -- for over a month to work with roving instructors on his swing. He went first to Daytona because rover Dave Keller was in town for the team's series with Sarasota.
“The Cubs and I talked about it and they let me have some influence on where I went since I needed to go down,” Lewis said. “We decided that West Tenn was the best place for me. Since I did have to go down, it was nice to see some of my buddies still there from last year. It made the move a little easier.”
As for batting further down?
“It’s been a little bit of an adjustment,” Lewis said. “Obviously, I’d like to bat higher up. Given the circumstances, though, I don’t think I should.”