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Hit ’em where they ain’t? Not working for Cubs’ Heyward so far

Jason Heyward

MIAMI — The open secret that is Jason Heyward’s nearly half-season struggle to hit since signing a mega-deal with the Cubs took on surreal proportions the first three games of the Marlins series – with four pitches in particular driven as hard as any he’s hit this season, without a hit to show for any.

He was 1-for-12 in the series until a pair of singles in Sunday’s finale – then lined another drive toward the wall in right that was caught by a leaping Giancarlo Stanton.

Heyward won’t make excuses for the .229 average he took into Sunday, but those four bolts the previous three days offer some insight.

His average on balls in play (BABIP) is a below-average .280, suggesting a bad-luck component to his struggles. That BABIP is his lowest since 2011 (.260), when he batted a career-low .227 in 128 games.

“He’s been very unlucky,” Maddon said. “I just want him to keep doing what he’s doing. He handles it well.

“It’s all about geometry sometimes.”

Notes: Right-hander Adam Warren threw 59 pitches and faced 16 batters Saturday night in his first start for Class AAA Iowa as the Cubs stretch him out for a spot start before the All-Star break to spell the rotation during a 24-games-in-24-days stretch. He pitched 3 2/3 innings with three strikeouts, four walks, three hits and two runs allowed. … Six-time All-Star closer Joe Nathan (early 2015 Tommy John surgery) made his second minor-league rehab appearance Saturday for AA Tennessee, pitching one inning with a strikeout and allowing one hit – a solo home run. … Cubs starter Jason Hammel, who had one of four hits off Miami’s All-Star starter Jose Fernandez Sunday, is 9-for-32. His .281 average ranks third among pitchers. … Sunday marked the eighth time this season the Cubs faced a former All-Star pitcher in a Hammel start. The Cubs’ right-hander, who could be in line for his first All-Star selection, is 3-2 with a 2.59 ERA in those starts.