Heyward Leads Off Yet Again, Schwarber Unrecognizable, Meditation, and Other Bullets

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Heyward Leads Off Yet Again, Schwarber Unrecognizable, Meditation, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

Forgive the very late Bullets today – lots of family time this morning (and an exercise class). It was especially nice to play with The Littlest Girl a lot this morning. She’s gone from sitting up on her own for the very first time earlier this week to doing it very casually now (she did it three times this morning alone!).

  • Jason Heyward is leading off again for the Cubs today, and Joe Maddon has already said it’s something of an audition (not so much for the player, but for Maddon in thinking about it). We recently discussed whether it could actually work for the Cubs, but what about Heyward himself? Earlier in his career, he was not super into the idea of leading off, but now, while it doesn’t sound like he’s jumping at the idea, he’ll do whatever the Cubs want (Cubs.com): “It could be [an audition] in his mind, but I’m here to play whenever or wherever. We’re all aware [Maddon] can be different any time. Wherever we’re asked to go that day, we have to be ready.”
  • I’ll reiterate: there was a time when Heyward’s skill set was perfect for leadoff (discipline, on-base ability, good overall hitter, great base-runner, good speed). That time has not been manifest with the Cubs. Thus, for me, unless Joe Maddon thinks leading off will help Heyward, himself, turn things around, then I don’t see it as a good fit for the Cubs to give Heyward more plate appearances than anyone else. Moreover, if the Cubs are going to try it, then I say *TRY* it. Don’t bounce him and everyone else up and down, give him a real stretch of time to see if it helps flip a switch for him mentally.
  • The absolute best quote I’ve seen on newly fit Kyle Schwarber, from Joe Maddon (Cubs.com): “The first time he did [the baserunning drill], I didn’t know who it was – I looked up and said, ‘Oh, it’s Schwarbs.’ With better technique and continued work, and a better frame to work from, I’m curious to watch this whole thing.” Maddon didn’t even recognize his own outfielder at one point.
  • Speaking of not recognizing Schwarber on first glance:

  • And speaking of Schwarber and leading off – he has yet to see a start at leadoff this spring. I think he could do the job very well, but after last year’s experience, I have ZERO issue with the Cubs not going back to that well right now. Just let him be comfortable somewhere down in the order.
  • You may remember that Travis Wood seriously injured his finger in a bow accident over the offseason, and he asked the doctor if cutting it off would get him back on the mound sooner. That being the case, these stories do not surprise me, even as they are ridiculous:

  • I recently met someone who did some mindfulness/meditation work with a few pro sports teams, and one of her remarks really stuck with me: there was a time 30, 40 years ago, when someone would say they were going to go out running, and everyone around them would think … running from what? Why would you do that? Running? Jogging as an activity? Makes no sense. Over time, obviously, it’s become a pretty standard activity for folks to incorporate as part of a healthy fitness routine. She sees the same turning point coming for mindfulness/meditation – as in, 10 years from now, people will be meditating regularly and it will be thought of like going out for a run. Pretty standard stuff that some people do for their brain. I mention all of this because I noticed Duane Underwood Jr. discussed adding meditation as part of his routine here at Cubs.com, and we know that the Cubs have incorporated mindfulness and meditation in a formal way in the organization. When a savvy organization like the Cubs is putting such stock in it, and when players are buying in, it’s clear that there’s something there. (For what it’s worth, I started meditating last year using ‘Headspace’, and it was a literal life-changer at a time when I really needed it.)
  • This really is a fantastic, insider-y read about what a guy like Will Venable goes through as he transitions from post-playing days to front office role to coaching role:


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.