NEW YORK — Don’t look now, but long-struggling Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward is heating up like he rarely has during his two-plus seasons as a Cub.
“You just get comfortable being uncomfortable,” said Heyward, who had a third consecutive multi-hit game during the Cubs’ 5-1 victory over the Mets on Thursday night. “Right now I feel like I’m doing a better job of keeping it simple, just being aware and being in tune with myself at the plate, just [using] my hands and [going] from there.”
Leadoff man Ben Zobrist had a three-hit game that included a go-ahead two-run homer.
But if Heyward has solved something at the plate, that could be a major storyline this season. He was moved up to the No. 2 spot in the order Thursday and is now 8-for-12 going back to Tuesday.
“I don’t know that I’ve seen him swing the bat this well here,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I like the adjustments that he’s making, and I see his hands being much more active, and the ball’s coming off hotter.
“We’re going to find out. I really think his confidence is on the rise right now, and I like exactly what he’s doing.”
Going Joe to Joe
Joe Torre, MLB’s chief baseball officer, visited the Cubs’ clubhouse on their first day in New York for a four-game series.
Torre, whose duties include discipline and rules interpretations, spent much of his time with Maddon discussing Anthony Rizzo’s slide into Pirates catcher Elias Diaz on Monday. That slide was ruled legal during the game, but MLB deemed it in violation of the rules the next day.
“We did talk about the play, but rear-view mirror kind of stuff, and it’s time to move on,” Maddon said.
Maddon, an outspoken critic of recent safety-driven rules changes involving slides, said Torre takes no issue with his public views on the rules.
“He loves it, actually,” Maddon said. “He encourages me to continue to say what I think, which I really appreciate.”
Q brings A game
For the second time in three starts and the fourth time overall this season, left-hander Jose Quintana (6-4) pitched at least six scoreless innings in a start, striking out the side in the first to open the game and retiring the last 11 batters he faced. In between, he gave up just three hits, walked two and worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the third.