Cody Bellinger gets first Cubs hit at Wrigley Field — one small step on long road back

“I know it’ll all work out,” Bellinger said before a 2-0 victory Friday against the Rangers.

SHARE Cody Bellinger gets first Cubs hit at Wrigley Field — one small step on long road back
Texas Rangers v Chicago Cubs

Cody Bellinger connects on an RBI single — his first hit as a Cub at Wrigley Field — in a 2-0 win against the Rangers.

Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Cody Bellinger was stuck in a cold spell. What to do?

Well, he ducked into a decent-looking spot and ordered a warm breakfast. Some hot coffee, too. See how easy that was? Problem solved.

This was Thursday, a day off for the Cubs, and that’s how the center fielder, still only beginning to learn his way around Chicago, fought off the nippy weather.

Now, about his long-frigid bat . . .

Everybody knows Bellinger has been trying to get his groove back at the plate pretty much since his gangbusters 2019 season with the Dodgers, when one of the brightest young superstars in the game achieved career highs in home runs (47), RBI (115), OPS (1.035) and batting average (.305) and won National League MVP honors in addition to Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards.

The struggle since then has been almost constant and, at times, absolutely brutal. From all that success — and a World Series crown in 2020 — to being platooned by the Dodgers and finally being dumped outright before latching on with the Cubs on a one-year, boom-or-bust deal as a free agent?

Man, that’s rough.

Better heat up soon, dude.

‘‘I know it’ll all work out,’’ he said before driving in the go-ahead run with a base hit — his first with the Cubs at Wrigley Field — in a 2-0 victory Friday against the Rangers.

Once upon a time, Bellinger didn’t have to worry about anything. As a rookie in the big leagues, he was threatening records before he even had time to blink. He was the fastest major-leaguer to get to four multihomer games (he did it in 45 games) and tied for the fastest to get to 20 homers (in 51 games). The NL Rookie of the Year race was over in a flash; Bellinger would win the award in a unanimous vote.

No one expects Bellinger to replicate that level of a start with the Cubs, but it would be nice to see him avoid series such as the first one of the season against the Brewers, when he went 0-for-11 in three games at Wrigley. Manager David Ross attributed those empty at-bats to Bellinger pressing.

‘‘I saw a lot of confidence in spring training, but then I saw a guy who came into Wrigley that first series and wanted to get a hit, impress a little bit, show the organization and the fan base that he can get off to a fast start,’’ Ross said. ‘‘But there was] a lot of drift, a lot of things he wasn’t doing in spring. It looked like, in Cincinnati, he got back to just being a little bit calmer.’’

Bellinger homered — his first Cubs hit — against starter Connor Everton in the first of two games against the Reds. In the second, he had hits against three pitchers and reached base with a walk against a fourth.

Any guesses how many three-hit games Bellinger had in 2020, 2021 and 2022 combined? Try seven — and not a damn one of them in 2021.

His first time up against Rangers right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, Bellinger sent a liner into the gap in right-center that was run down by right fielder Robbie Grossman for an out. Next time up, Bellinger roped a curveball into right to drive in Dansby Swanson with what held up as the winning run.

Got to say that ‘‘Bellinger driving in Swanson’’ has a mighty nice ring to it.

So far, not bad.

‘‘I just want to produce for the boys, you know what I mean?’’ Bellinger said. ‘‘More so than for myself.’’

Rangers manager Bruce Bochy, back in the dugout after a three-year hiatus, witnessed Bellinger’s meteoric rise as the skipper of the NL West rival Giants. When Bochy retired after the 2019 season, the thought of Bellinger — at the height of his powers — nosediving would have been laughable.

‘‘He did a lot of damage against us,’’

Bochy said. ‘‘I’ll leave it at that because I’ve been out for three years. But you’re looking at a guy with really special tools.’’

Swanson came up with the Braves while Bellinger did likewise with the Dodgers and — along with his teammates — marveled at Bellinger’s undeniable talent and seemingly limitless trajectory.

‘‘We all saw him as a threat every time he walked into the batter’s box,’’ Swanson said. ‘‘He was just such a great baseball player. He still is, but during those times — I’m telling you — you were just trying to keep him in the yard. Every time he came up, it was, ‘Just keep him in the yard.’ ’’

Will the denizens of Cubdom witness a full-on revival?

‘‘I hope so,’’ Swanson said. ‘‘He works at it so hard.’’

Can it be?

‘‘I feel that, man,’’ Bellinger said.

Meantime, Bellinger is soaking up his new surroundings.

‘‘It’s honestly incredible here,’’ he said of Wrigley. ‘‘I mean it, seriously. It feels way different running out from the third-base dugout, and it’s cool from the first-base dugout. It’s really an unbelievable feeling.’’

The Latest
Lawyers for Trump had argued that special counsel Jack Smith was illicitly appointed and that his office was improperly funded by the Justice Department.
U.S. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle issued a statement saying security in Milwaukee has been beefed up.
Achilles C. Beasley, 18, was sitting in a vehicle in the 1800 block of West 88th Street about 6:05 p.m. Sunday when he was hit in the leg by gunfire, police said. He died at a hospital.
The shooting of the 33-year-old woman, who was grazed in the head and suffered non life-threatening injuries, was likely sparked by an earlier fight involving staffers in the parking lot, officials said.
Returning this year are the Navy Blue Angels and Army Golden Knights, joined by newcomers RJ Gritter and the Trojan Phlyers and more.