LOS ANGELES — The last month has been a whirlwind for Cubs third baseman Patrick Wisdom, as he has gone from relatively unknown to one of the most talked about players on the team. Wisdom burst onto the scene this month and has made his presence felt by slugging 10 home runs in just 74 at-bats.
Wisdom’s performance not only has been eye-opening for anyone watching, but also to himself.
After brief cups of coffee with the Cardinals and Rangers and plenty of time in the minor leagues, getting a real opportunity with the Cubs is something that isn’t lost on Wisdom amid the success.
“When you put it all into perspective and you think about it on that scale, it’s really cool,” Wisdom told the Sun-Times. “There’s a lot of people who don’t get to do this. I feel really honored and special to put on that jersey.
“To play alongside Javy [Baez] and [Anthony] Rizzo standing across the infield, while Craig Kimbrel is getting another historic save, that really gives me goosebumps thinking about it.”
The 2012 first-round pick has had a reintroduction of sorts as his play on the field has caused his star to rise and introduced him to Cubs fans for the first time.
“It is funny to see the memes that come out and the things that people say,” he said with a smile. “I don’t read too much into it, but the funny ones do catch my attention.’’
But the 29-year-old sensation doesn’t just want to be baseball’s flavor of the month. Wisdom already has seen pitchers start to attack him differently, adjusting to what has become a dangerous bat in the Cubs’ lineup.
He knows it’s now up to him to make his adjustment back to the rest of the league.
“It’s understanding my weaknesses and cold zones,” he said. “Then figuring out how I can adjust to that. If it looks like a strike coming in and then ends up being a ball, do I just learn to not swing at those pitches anymore, or do I figure out how to hit them? So kind [of] at that crossroad of learning, trying to adjust and staying one step ahead.
“Mentally, I think more than anything, it’s just knowing that I can play this game.”
Manager David Ross has given Wisdom every opportunity to play after he was recalled from Triple-A Iowa on May 25 and after Wisdom responded with a home-run barrage, he has become an everyday player.
While the long ball has been Wisdom’s calling card through his first 27 games with the Cubs, he also has been a standout defensively. He’s already plus-three defensive runs saved and plus-three outs above average this season.
Ross has seen several players come and go during his major-league career and while he knows the adjustment for Wisdom is coming, he thinks there’s more there than a boom-or-bust bat.
“I think that goes a long way when you feel comfortable in an environment,” Ross said. “I think when you have opportunities, you grind your way back and seizing those opportunities, and having been comfortable with the work you’ve put in and can say, ‘I belong in the major leagues and I can have success there’, having some early on when he first popped up, just gives you validation and confidence that goes a long way.”
As Wisdom tries to make a lasting impression with the Cubs, it’s his responsibilities off the field that he feels have kept him focused while his life on the field has changed this season.
He and his wife, Caroline, have two young daughters and while playing third base for the Cubs is a dream of a lifetime for many, for him, getting to be a “Girl Dad” makes the joys of his success even sweeter.
“At the end of the day, when the game is over, I’m in dad mode and I love every minute of it,” Wisdom said. “It also puts the game into perspective. I try to visualize it through their eyes. ‘Daddy’s out there playing a game. He gets to hit the ball and chase it down and catch and throw it.’ So I think that kind of reduces the pressure, honestly, with trying to perform and trying to do better. I can just relax out there thinking about my girls.”