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Cubs’ Heyward rolls with lineup demotion, doubles home pair

Jason Heyward breaks his bat in a game against the Mets last season.

Joe Maddon on Monday finally made the lineup change that would have been made more than a month ago if Twitter were managing the Cubs.

The Cubs manager dropped struggling megabucks outfielder Jason Heyward from second to sixth in his order, and the move immediately paid off with a two-out, two-run double by Heyward in his first at-bat Monday against left-hander Cody Reed.

Heyward, who has batted almost exclusively in the No. 2 spot this year (with two recent starts at leadoff) was batting just .231 at the midpoint of the season with little power and a .641 OPS.

Recent injuries that have changed the look of the lineup on either side of Heyward have coincided with less production during a two-week team slump.

“Beyond that, this will just give him a little bit of a break out of that 2 hole and just see if we can get him going in the right direction on a more consistent basis,” said Maddon, who’s down enough bodies that he started three rookies in Monday’s game (Willson Contreras, Jeimer Candelario and Albert Almora Jr.).

“He’s been hitting into a lot of bad luck,” Maddon said of Heyward, mentioning hard-hit outs. “But it’s just to rearrange the deck chairs a little bit and see how it plays.”

Maddon said he didn’t know how long he’ll go with Heyward lower in the order.

“With a week before the All-Star break I thought it was a good time to just give it a test drive,” said Maddon, who suggested a potentially full-strength lineup after the break could influence the plan.

Heyward, who started at times in each of the top eight spots in the order for the Cardinals last year, took the move in stride. For the Cards, he spent most of his starts at cleanup and made 18 in the 6 hole.

“I just want to do what I can to help the team win, to keep going up there and trying to put up good at-bats,” Heyward said. “Keep trying to hit the ball hard, and get on base. That’s the big thing. But just let the game come to me.”

He has noticed he’s facing unfamiliar pitchers more often this year, he said, and his slightly lower-than-average average on balls in play (BABIP) suggest, as Maddon said, that he’s run into some bad luck.

“But there’s no excuse there,” he said. “You just have to make adjustments.

“In a different position in the lineup maybe there’s other things I’m able to do,” he added, “maybe opportunities with people on base, men in scoring position, things like that more than in the 2 hole. Other than that, just let the game come to me.”