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Cubs designate popular Campana for assignment

(MCT) — MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs designated poplar Tony Campana for assignment Sunday after officially signing outfielder Scott Hairston to a two-year, $5 million deal.

"It was a difficult call for us," team President Theo Epstein said. "It speaks to the fact that our 40-man roster is starting to have better depth on it."

Campana, 26, is a .262 career hitter with a .306 on-base percentage. He was used primarily off the bench, but is one of the game's fastest players, with 54 steals in 59 attempts.

"We hope we can keep him in the organization," Epstein said. "That would be the best outcome. Obviously he could be a weapon for a contending team in a certain role. The biggest area where Tony needs to continue to work is trying to find a way to get on base where he can use his speed."

Cubs brass was peppered with questions during the Cubs Convention about why the team don't give Campana more playing time. But Hairston, 32, gives the Cubs a right-handed power threat who can platoon in center with David DeJesus and in right with Nate Schierholtz.

Hairston hit .263 last year in 134 games with the Mets, with 25 doubles, 20 home runs and 57 RBIs.

"We're excited to bring him in," general manager Jed Hoyer said. "It gives us a lot of versatility in the outfield and he's a guy who has proven he can hit left-handed pitching and be one of the best platoon guys in the game."

The Cubs have 10 days to trade Campana or place him on waivers.

Backing Marmol: Epstein reiterated the organization believes Carlos Marmol was innocent of the abuse charges he faces in a civil suit in the Dominican Republic, adding the Cubs were not aware of the accusation by a 24-year-old woman when they made a deal to send him to the Angels last fall. The trade later fell through.

"Any incident like that, especially if it involves a woman, we have to take extremely seriously," Epstein said. "So it was our decision to look into it a little bit. We don't have necessarily all the information. Obviously we weren't there. But all the information we were able to gather backs up Carlos' story that he was guilty of no wrongdoing whatsoever and may in fact be the victim (of extortion) here."

Theo vs. Jed: Manager Dale Sveum added a new wrinkle to the preseason bunting tournament -- holding a bunt-off between 16 front-office members for the last spot in the 64-man players bracket. Epstein and Hoyer will be among those competing for a spot.

Epstein already began trash-talking with Hoyer on their matchup: "You can't tell whether he's swinging the bat or bunting."

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