Nico Hoerner didn’t join the Cubs this week with any notion that he could be the spark the team needs.
An emergency callup from Class AA Tennessee, Hoerner just wanted to keep things simple and play the game the way he has always played it.
Hoerner has given manager Joe Maddon much to think about in the final weeks of the season. The 22-year-old shortstop homered for the second consecutive game, hitting a three-run blast in the sixth inning Saturday. He also singled twice and scored three times.
Hoerner has 11 RBI in his first six games, the most by a Cubs player in that span since at least 1908. He also has 10 hits, seven runs scored and three extra-base hits — including a home run on the first pitch he saw at Wrigley Field.
“Nico’s performance can’t be overlooked,” Maddon said. “That was the first pitch he saw yesterday? I mean, come on. And beyond that, the thing that I’m really focused on is the defense. He’s really done a nice job with defense, which we really need out there.”
Addison Russell hasn’t been cleared to return from concussion protocol after being hit by a pitch in the helmet one week ago. He may find himself returning to a bench role if Hoerner continues at this pace. Maddon, though wouldn’t get into that.
“I mean it sincerely,” Maddon said, “I am not even giving that a thought until Addison is ready to rock and roll. And once he is, I know one thing for sure: Even if Nico were to start the game, we could upgrade the defense [later in the game] with Addison.
“It’s one of those things I don’t even permit myself to go there. So in the meantime, Nico just keep doing what you’re doing. He’s impressed the industry, but more importantly the clubhouse. The guys have really been impressed by him.”
Wrigley organist to retire
Gary Pressy, the Wrigley Field organist for the last 33 seasons, announced his decision to retire after this homestand.
“After this, my 33rd season, I’ve decided to spend more quality time with my family,” Pressy wrote on Twitter. “I can’t say thank you enough.”
The Cubs honored Pressy in 2016 with a bobblehead of him at his organ to celebrate his 30th year at Wrigley. A season later he reached a milestone of 2,500 consecutive games in the booth.
More Cubs-Pirates fireworks
The Cubs and Pirates have had an ugly history this season with inside pitches and hit batters giving way to all-out brawls.
The ugliness continued Saturday after Pirates reliever Clay Holmes plunked David Bote in the sixth. It was the third Cubs batter Holmes hit with a pitch, and Bote — who was hit in the head with a pitch by Holmes in July — started pointing fingers as he walked to first base.
The Cubs dugout emptied and both bullpens came onto the field ready for another melee. But cool heads prevailed and the game resumed without incident.
“I knew it wasn’t intentional,” Bote said. “And I wasn’t gonna go after him.”
Cubs reliever Dillon Maples was ejected in the ninth inning for plunking two Pirates hitters in a row.