McGehee Spinning his Wheels

Casey McGehee hasn't had many things go his way on the field thus far in 2007. He began his second straight season at Triple-A Iowa with a 0-for-10 stretch and was then bothered by a wrist injury before taking a line drive just above his right eye, which resulted in a mild concussion and six stitches to boot.

Pardon the 24-year-old Cubs prospect if he feels he has been spinning his wheels a little this season, though perhaps those wheels are starting to straighten out just a little.

McGehee returned to the Iowa (9-9) lineup in his team's 5-1 loss at first-place Nashville on Monday. He went 1-for-3 after taking over at third base for Scott Moore, who left the game after being hit by a pitch.

Having batted just .172 through his first nine games, and missing playing time with two separate ailments, McGehee hopes the worst of his struggles are behind him.

"I'm looking forward to getting back and getting into a routine," he said Monday. "It's been kind of frustrating for me because this is the first time I've missed an extended period of time."

Frustrated or not, McGehee feels the time off might turn out to be a positive.

"It could be a good thing, having looked in and getting my batteries recharged," McGehee said. "It makes you appreciate the times you are in there. Hopefully, we won't have to go through that again this year."

A 10th-round Cubs draft pick from Fresno State in 2003, McGehee isn't used to these types of setbacks.

For one, he's always been relatively healthy, having played in excess of 100 games in each of his three full seasons on the Cubs' minor league circuit.

For another, he's typically hit well at every level, having secured an All-Star nod (in 2005 at Double-A West Tennessee) along the way.

"You have to look back and realize that the success you've had in recent years is the type of hitter you are; not the guy that's gone up there and had problems and gone 3-for-25," McGehee said.

McGehee may be struggling in the early going now, but he also got off to a slow start in the Mexican Winter League during this past off-season.

Alas, there's no need to panic just yet.

"I have to credit my wife because she pointed out that in Winter Ball, I got off to a similar start – 1-for-10 or 1-for-15. I stayed with it and stayed with my approach and didn't press. The next thing you know, you have a good game here and there and you're right back to where you want to be."

What about McGehee's future in the infield? He came into Spring Training this year as a catcher and got some reps in behind the plate after spending his previous two seasons almost exclusively at third base.

"I don't know if anyone really knows what the plan is," said McGehee. "At this point, I'm not really too concerned with it. I'm definitely still bringing the catcher's mitt to the yard every day in case something happens. I've been paying a little more attention to how guys are pitched than in the past."

Thus far, McGehee's only season behind the plate was in 2004 with Class-A Daytona. He still spent the bulk of his time there at third and has since been primarily a mainstay at the hot corner with a few starts at first base.

When and if the call comes again, how will McGehee answer?

"I did enough catching in Spring Training where if they want to throw me back there, I'll at least be able to manage the game," he said. "I won't win a Gold Glove at this point, but I'll give our pitchers a chance to have a good game and help them."


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