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Cubs add some speed with outfielder Gathright
By Mike Spellman | Daily Herald Staff

Joey Gathright played for Cubs manager Lou Piniella in Tampa Bay in 2005. The speedy outfielder has been clocked at 6.1 seconds in the 60-yard dash and 3.3 seconds from home plate to first base on a bunt.

 

Associated Press file

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Published: 12/16/2008 11:55 AM | Updated: 12/16/2008 3:06 PM

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He's been clocked at 6.1 seconds in the 60-yard dash.

He can get from home to first in 3.3 seconds on drag bunts.

With the addition of outfielder Joey Gathright - who on Tuesday agreed to a one-year, $800,000 deal with the Cubs - manager Lou Piniella's need for speed should be sated.

It doesn't hurt that the 27-year-old, who was non-tendered by the Kansas City Royals after batting .254 in 105 games, is a left-handed bat on a righty-dominated roster.

"We've been really looking for a guy like this for quite some time," said Cubs general manager Jim Hendry. "He's arguably one of the fastest guys in the game if not the fastest.

"It's no secret that Lou loves to have people like this in the organization. And if he's not starting, he's a tremendous piece on the bench every day."

Gathright, who has seen his most action in center field, has played all or part of the last five seasons with Tampa Bay (2004-06) and Kansas City (2006-08), batting .263 in 399 major-league games. He has recorded 78 stolen bases in 105 attempts.

"We set out to find a real speed guy and another left-handed hitter," Hendry said. "He makes a lot of sense. He can play all three outfield spots."

Just how much playing time Gathright, who played under Piniella in Tampa, actually sees next year is to be determined.

"His at-bats will be dictated by Lou," Hendry said. "How many starts will be up to him."

With the signing of Gathright, the Cubs may try to trade center fielder Felix Pie, who is out of minor-league options.

Hendry didn't bite when asked about Pie's future.

"We're a long way from Opening Day," Hendry said. "We'll just continue to try to mix and match until Opening Day. It doesn't exclude anybody from making the team."

As for the Cubs' pursuit of a left-handed hitting outfielder with power - a la Milton Bradley - Hendry said the process is ongoing.

"We feel comfortable that we'll end up with a good left-handed hitter," he said. "We're just looking at options. There are always different ways to go."

• Paul Weaver, who had been a special assistant to the general manager, has been promoted by the Cubs to director of international scouting.

Jose Serra, who had been manager of Latin American operations, has been promoted to Latin American coordinator.