MESA, Ariz. -- It was about a year ago when Ryan Theriot was told he had made the Cubs' Opening Day roster.
"It's definitely a lot more comforting and exciting, too," Theriot said about entering this spring as the incumbent shortstop. "You know where you're going to be and you know what you're going to be doing and you can focus on that rather than try to make a team. It's a lot easier playing."
He didn't slack off in the winter, and stepped up his workouts to be better prepared for a 162-game season. Theriot struggled through the last month of the 2007 season, batting .202, and endured injuries that the public wasn't aware of.
"I've never been one for excuses," Theriot said. "You'll never hear it come out of my mouth. The fact of the matter is, it was something I needed to go through and learn from. It was a rough month at the end, battling a lot of things, but you keep playing. Really, toward the end of the last month, I started to feel good and in the playoffs, felt real good."
Part of his problems were his back, which made him step up his core workouts. The 148 games he played last season were a career high.
"Shortstop is a pretty demanding position," Theriot said. "What I'm most proud of is my defense never faltered. That was a bright point."
On Tuesday, Theriot was in the right spot to turn a 3-6-1 double play and help Jason Marquis escape a jam in the fifth inning against the Royals.
"All in all, for my first full season there were things to improve on and things I could do differently," Theriot said. "But there's only one way to go and that's up from there."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.