Cubs’ confident Ian Happ seeking to pick up where he left off in Arizona
Happ’s hitting in the Cactus League was especially encouraging after he closed last season with a terrific September.
One of the little things that was lost when baseball — and all of sports — shut things down in March was Cubs outfielder Ian Happ’s torrid spring.
Happ was 13-for-27 with two home runs and 11 RBI in Cactus League games when the plug was pulled on his hot bat. It’s never a good time to cool off at the plate, but that was some tough timing for a player who, at 25, was hoping for a breakout season.
He still is, though, even if it’s of the two-plus-month variety.
‘‘I feel great, my body feels great and it’s just a matter of getting reps in,’’ said Happ, the Cubs’ first-round draft pick in 2015.
Happ’s hitting in Arizona was especially encouraging after he closed last season with a terrific September. Now the key for him is to — what else? — get that same stroke going again ASAP.
Not going to be a problem, he reckons.
‘‘I took my end of the season last year into spring training,’’ he said. ‘‘I took that confidence, took how much I believed in myself, into spring and had a great spring, and that’s what I’ll do here. I’ll take the confidence that I built in spring training and really try to carry that over.’’
On Friday at Wrigley Field, Happ stood behind the batting cage with manager David Ross and talked about confidence. Happ displayed his during the layoff with his podcast — called The Compound — and on social media. Between the lines is, naturally, where it really matters.
‘‘That’s paramount to being a good baseball player, that confidence, especially that self-belief,’’ Ross said. ‘‘It’s something that’s hard to trick yourself [into] when you’re not going well, and sometimes you have to lie to yourself as best you can.’’
No need for Happ to lie with his spring numbers. He doesn’t even have to embellish the truth.
Braves’ new world
One of Ross’ managerial mentors is the Braves’ Brian Snitker, whose job got a lot harder when four of his players, including All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman, tested positive for COVID-19. Reliever Will Smith and infielders Pete Kozma and Touki Toussaint were the others.
Ross played with Freeman with the Braves in 2010-12 and texted him well wishes Saturday. After that, it was back on task.
‘‘We’re going to worry about us and our players,’’ Ross said. ‘‘[MLB] has an enormous task ahead of them, and every situation is going to be different and unique. But I’m going to stay in tune with our group and make sure they’re following the protocols the best they can.’’
Who’s Zoomin’ whom?
Worlds collided during a media Zoom call with Ross when — how could it be? — the instantly recognizable voice of a White Sox PR man piped in to discuss former Cubs prospect Eloy Jimenez.
A prank? The nerve!
No. Actually, it was just a media member accidentally running volume on two Zooms — on two devices — at once.
‘‘A game of adjustments,’’ Ross quipped as the guilty party scrambled in his little on-screen box to shut off the South Side interruption.