Cubs’ Almora: Dugout reception was ‘highlight of my career’

SAN FRANCISCO — Albert Almora Jr.’s reaction after his spectacular ninth-inning defensive gem in Game 3 was nearly as big as the catch itself. After robbing Buster Posey in right field and firing to first for a double play — keeping the Cubs alive for the time being — Almora shouted all the way from the outfield to the dugout.

The reception Almora got from teammates, who mobbed him in raucous celebration, meant more to him than the catch itself.

“It was the highlight of my baseball career so far,” he said. “One hundred percent, it was the highlight of my career.”

If that play didn’t prove Almora belongs on the Cubs’ roster throughout the postseason, it’s hard to envision what it would take to do so. The club’s 2012 first-round draft pick, still only 22, is a superb defensive outfielder. Yet most observers anticipated Maddon would keep reserve outfielder Matt Szczur in the fold instead.

Albert Almora Jr. celebrates on the way back to the dugout after his spectacular ninth-inning catch in Game 3. (AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Albert Almora Jr. celebrates on the way back to the dugout after his spectacular ninth-inning catch in Game 3. (AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Almora is grateful to be along for this October ride.

“I’m just excited that I can try to help in any way, shape or form,” he said.

Almora has had the highest of hopes for himself since signing with the Cubs organization four years ago. It wasn’t the easiest thing for him to watch as more recent picks Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber made their way to the big leagues first, but that experience has ignited his determination to contribute to a World Series run.

“I just want to go as hard and far as I can for my team,” he said.

Just like he did on that catch.

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Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com