And three of those runs can be attributed to the man of the Spring, Jason Heyward, who recorded his first two hits of the spring – a deep home run to right and a line-drive double down the left field line – for a grand total of three RBI.
After a long winter of swing changes and an even longer spring of discussing them, Heyward’s bat finally came alive, and Cubs fans rejoiced across the land.
Of course, there was no reason (yet) to be concerned that the new swing changes weren’t going to take hold, because despite the frustration, it had really only been 15 outs. But still, it was nice to see him notch a couple of hits, and even nicer that they were well struck for extra bases.
As you can imagine, Heyward is feeling pretty great about his performance yesterday (as he should) and is as confident in his offseason work as ever. Take a look at some of his full comments of confidence at Cubs.com, the Athletic, and ESPN Chicago for more.
According to Heyward, he’s felt good all Spring, but has felt more like himself the last few days. Apparently the swing changes felt settled, but he was still working on finding his timing in-game – like most hitters at the beginning of the Spring. Once that all clicked, he began to regain some confidence.
But if you think it’s the home run that got him going, think again. According to Heyward, the two-out, two-strike double off left-hander Greg Mahle was his hit of the day:
Heyward stuck with that at-bat and didn’t squander an opportunity to go the other way and plate a couple more runs. It really was great to see that kind of hard contact the other way, and I’m sure it felt even better.
For what it’s worth, Heyward also mentioned that he prefers to bat lower in the lineup (like he did yesterday), because it allows him to see the opposing pitcher a bit more before taking some cuts.
“When you hit later in the lineup, you get a chance to kind of see the game,” Heyward said. “Feel the game out, see the starter, see some pitches. Playing outfield, running right in off the field and then going up there to hit, there’s a lot of things that can get sped up. Batting lower today did allow me to kind of feel the game out, see some pitches and gain some timing before I actually get in the box.”
And, well, that’s fine, because he’s almost certainly going to hit in the fifth spot or lower during the regular season, regardless of how well he does. Due to the combined presence of Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, and Willson Contreras, batting any higher would be – for most players – nearly impossible to accomplish.
Heyward feels good and continues to believe in the work he put in over the winter. Hopefully, yesterday’s little outburst will propel him through the spring, and on into the regular season.