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2015 Spring-Training Countdown, Day 17: Mike Fontenot

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Not who you expected, is it?

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Admit it, you figured Day 17 would be Mark Grace.

But we've talked about Mark Grace many, many times here, in several different contexts. So I thought I'd bring someone different to the discussion.

Besides Grace, there are only three Cubs who have worn No. 17 for four or more seasons: pitcher Bob Rush (1949-57), infielder Dave Rosello (1972, 1975-77) and Mike Fontenot.

Even though he was a first-round draft pick (19th overall) by the Orioles in 2001, Fontenot's minor-league record wasn't anything special (he hit .279/.346/.420 with 111 strikeouts for Triple-A Ottawa in 2004), and he might have languished in the Baltimore system if he hadn't been included as a throw-in in the Sammy Sosa trade in February 2005. In an odd coincidence, the publication of this post also marks the 10th anniversary of that trade, which happened February 2, 2005.

Fontenot had a slightly better year at Iowa in 2005 (.272/.377/.430, more walks, fewer strikeouts) and got a cuppa coffee in September 2005 with the Cubs (seven games as a pinch-hitter or pinch-runner).

He didn't reappear in the big leagues until 2007, and in 2008 Fontenot made his biggest impact on the Cubs. That year, playing mostly second base and a bit of shortstop, he hit .305/.395/.514 with nine home runs in just 234 at-bats. I always marveled at how a man that small could hit with that kind of power. He's listed at 5-9... let's just say that's very, very generous.

Fontenot hit nine home runs in 2009, too, but in 377 PA with a slash line of just .236/.301/.377. He was completely out of place as a third baseman once Aramis Ramirez went down with an injury. He hit reasonably well in 2010, enough that the Giants were interested in dealing for him. The Cubs got no one of consequence, but Fontenot went on to get a World Series ring, even though he didn't play in the Series. If you look at his postseason game log you'll see him credited with one game played in the 2010 World Series, but that consisted of being announced as a pinch-hitter, then being replaced when the Rangers brought in a lefthanded pitcher.

Fontenot last played in the big leagues in 2012 but spent 2013 and 2014 at Triple-A Durham in the Rays system. If he never plays in the majors again he finishes with 1,413 at-bats and a triple-slash of .265/.332/.401. He played in three postseasons and got that ring.

Did you know that someone wore No. 17 for the Cubs in 2014? It was bench coach Brandon Hyde, who rarely appeared on the field and when he did, wore one of those blue-and-red pullovers. If Hyde retains that number this year, you'll see more of it, as he's going to be the Cubs' first-base coach in 2015.