Versatile Matt Duffy becoming one of the early surprises of the Cubs season
Duffy has a .432 on-base percentage in 20 games this season and has been one of the Cubs’ most consistent hitters.
CINCINNATI – The Cubs early-season injuries and struggles on offense has forced the team to find out exactly what they have from their bench. One player who has already taken advantage of the playing time is veteran infielder Matt Duffy.
Duffy, who’s in his first season in Chicago, was a surprise addition to the Cubs roster coming out of spring training, but has started to show the decision to add him on the roster was the right one.
“I’ve played in just about every role you could play in my career,” Duffy said in a recent interview. “So I’m pretty comfortable with whatever I’m asked to do. It’s obviously great for me personally, to be getting more of an opportunity. But it comes at a cost and we have some guys that are banged up right now. So just trying to fill in as best I can and show them that I’m capable of taking big at-bats as well.”
Getting back to being a significant contributor in the big leagues has been something Duffy has had to work for after a litany of injuries changed the course of his career. He didn’t appear in the Majors last season as he played at the Yankees’ alternate site.
But for Duffy, he’s learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable. He feels that mindset has helped him adjust to the variety of roles he now has with the Cubs this season.
“I feel like I’ve learned so much about my body just from trying to search out reasons why things happened, and how to fix this, how to prevent that,” he said. “I feel like it’ll make me a healthier person in the long run. Whether that’s in my career or just life after baseball. Just like any situation, there’s pros and cons to [what you go through], depending on how you want to look at it.
“I believe that I can play at the highest level. I believe that I belong on the field with the best players in the game, but at the same time, I think that doing whatever you can for the team, is, if everybody does that, like the results will speak for themselves and you’re going to be a better team.”
Duffy has shown defensive versatility playing first base, second base and third base this season, but what has stood out early has been his offense, specifically his ability to get on-base. The 30-year-old infielder is hitting .282 with seven walks and a robust .417 OPS in 21 games this season. He went 1-for-4 with a run scored in the Cubs’ 8-4 loss to the Reds on Friday.
Outside of Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras, Duffy has had some of the most consistent at-bats and that’s caught the attention of manager David Ross. Ross has moved him to third in the lineup over the last two games.
“What has impressed me about Matt Duffy is his professionalism and his ability to embrace a role,” Ross said. His work ethic, baseball IQ, approach, contact ability and the ability to stay ready with timing when he doesn’t get those starts and still be ready to do a lot of things. … He’s done a really good job at that. Very impressive young man and I’m happy he’s on our team.”