Kelton Happy, Surprised to Stay with Cubs

MESA, Ariz. - David Kelton admits he was slightly nervous in right field during Saturday's Cubs win over the Seattle Mariners in Las Vegas.                                                            

"I was a little surprised (to clear waivers)," Kelton admitted. "The longer they wait to put you on waivers, the harder it is for another team to pick you up, because many have already started finalizing their rosters. All of a sudden there's only one day left before the season starts and a lot of teams have had their rosters set for almost a week. It makes it more difficult."

Kelton, who hit .248 at Triple-A Iowa last season, batted .300 with six doubles, a home run and six RBI with the Cubs this spring. "I'm very excited (to stay with the Cubs)," he said. "This is the organization I've always been with. It's all about coming in each spring and planning on making the team."

He admits to experiencing many emotions in the days leading up to Saturday, the deadline for the Cubs to trim their roster to 25 for opening day.

"You try to stay positive," said Kelton, who finished 0-for-2 in Saturday's game. "You try to clear your mind and not think about your future, and just focus on the game itself. I honestly didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't know if somebody else would pick me up or if I'd make the team as the last (roster) spot. I didn't think I'd clear waivers, but I did. Now I'll go back to Triple-A, play as hard as I can, and hopefully a spot will become available."

Asked if all the uncertainty affected his performance this past week, Kelton said, "I don't know ... it might have, but you try not to think about it. There's already enough pressure at this level. Getting down to the last couple of days may have added a little more (pressure), but I tried not to think about it. I can't say that I didn't, however."

After learning that Jason Dubois had beaten him out for the final roster spot, Kelton was one of the first to congratulate his 2004 Iowa teammate.

"I wished them all good luck," Kelton said. "They're all good friends of mine and a lot of them I have played with for many years. I became good friends with Jason and he deserves it. He had a great season last year."

Asked if there was anything different in his approach to Spring Training this year, Kelton said, "There are always things you tend to hitting-wise. Once you get into the spring, you figure out the strengths and weaknesses you're having at that time. For me, it's all about staying back and letting the ball come to me."

Kelton plans to meet with Iowa manager Mike Quade Sunday and stated he had signed a minor league contract with the Cubs in mid-March.

"If for some reason I don't get called up to the big league club this year, I become a free agent," Kelton said. "I'm hoping to make it back up at some point this year whether it's in the middle of the season or as a September call-up.

"I'm hoping to be a part of their plans."

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