Cubs’ Addison Russell on how to take his game ‘to the next level’

MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs aren’t going to be able to keep up this whole better-than-everybody-else thing by staying the same. We may love them just the way they are, but they’ve got to keep getting better to stay ahead of all those good teams nipping at their heels.

What does that mean on an individual level? Here’s what some of the team’s young players are focusing on:

Addison Russell: “Definitely base running. I think I can get better at base running. I think it would take my game to the next level. … All facets, from rounding the bag to taking the lead to knowing who’s playing where and who’s on first, second, third. Also, knowing when to go first to third, second to home; the ball’s hit in hole and you read it and instead of just staying on second, you make hard turn for third.

“Of course, swiping bags. I know the speed’s there. It’s just a matter of anticipating when to steal and reading that pitcher and getting comfortable on the base paths. That’s the goal right now.”

Anybody can run the bases after belting a gigantic home run. Addison Russell wants to improve on the dinner points of base running in 2017. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Java Baez: “To be honest, I’m just trying to stay healthy the whole year. Last year, I wasn’t there for Opening Day. I jammed by thumb little bit and had to stay (in Mesa) two or three series.”

Albert Almora Jr.: “I’d be lying to you if I said there’s just one thing. I’m a baseball junkie. I like getting better at every aspect of my game. It might seem like that’s just the right answer to say, but it really is what I’m really focused on — everything in the game. I feel like the day I get complacent in one aspect of the game is the day I start going downhill.”

HENDRICKS ON THE HILL

Kyle Hendricks makes his second Cactus League start Friday in Peoria against the Mariners. His first time out was last Saturday against the Dodgers, whom he held scoreless over two innings. The Cubs’ lineup:

 

 

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