DENVER – You couldn’t blame this one on Jason Heyward.
The Cubs’ struggling right fielder spent Sunday’s 11-4 loss to the Rockies like he did the previous three games – taking manager Joe Maddon’s prescription to “chill” and watching the other guys play.
But by the time he packed his bag in the clubhouse Sunday afternoon, he was back to doing what the rest of the team was doing after their series loss at Coors Field:
“Right now it’s just all about trying to hit the reset button for me,” said Heyward, who resumes his starting role in right field Monday when the Cubs open a three-game series against the Padres in San Diego against ex-Cub Edwin Jackson.
“It’s about going forward,” he said. “The goal was just to come in and relax and watch a baseball game and not overthink it. And understand that I can help this team in a lot of ways coming back from it.
“I feel good. My head’s fine. I had fun watching my guys play. Now I look at it as, `Let’s go win as many games as possible and put myself right there in the middle of helping this team win.’ “
For all the ugly baseball endured by the Cubs on Sunday – from Nolan Arenado’s pair of three-run homers to the errors committed by four different Cubs – they left Colorado no worse in any significant way than when they arrived.
Their season-long lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central is at a robust 12 games. Nobody else needed to go on the DL since they started the series. And second-year shortstop Addison Russell even got the chance to flex a little Coors muscle with his 16th and 17th home runs of the season.
“I think if Addison played here right now, he’d probably have at least 25 homers and be approaching 100 RBIs,” said Maddon, who took Russell out of the game after the second homer to give him a breather in the blowout. “In his brief major-league career, he’s playing at the top of his game right now. That was not an anomaly. He’s got that kind of power.”
Beyond that, Maddon and the Cubs will take little of that game with them to San Diego as the nine-game trip continues.
“An oil painting it was not,” Maddon said. “That’s the kind of game I really don’t dwell on very long. Once [the media] leave here, I promise you I’m going to crack open a Miller Lite, I’m going to grab something to eat, and look on TripAdvisor to find somewhere for us to eat tonight in San Diego.”
It sounds a lot like Heyward’s approach to the first 4½ months of his season: A mental flush and a renewed focus on the final 39 games of the regular season and the playoff reset to follow.
“I’ve already said it, but numbers aren’t going to mean anything to me at this point as an individual,” said Heyward, whose .225, no-power slump this season has deepened since the All-Star break (.170, one homer).
“Wins and losses and what I do to help this team win, like I can, that’s it. That’s the bottom line,” he said. “And in October, if we keep doing what we can, right now, keep playing the way we’re capable of after that point, nobody looks up and sees what the regular season looks like. Nobody cares. That’s the fortunate thing about playing in October.”
Whatever might become of his playing status by then.
“I’m going to do what I can right now,” he said, “and go out there and relax, have some fun and help this team. And if we get to October, go from there.”