CHICAGO (CBS) — Michael Kopech and Yermin Mercedes have been talked about a lot lately for their achievements on the South Side, and rightfully so.
But for the Cubs on the North Side, it has been Nico Hoerner the last few days.
David Bote won the starting second-base job in Spring Training, but as CBS 2’s Luke Stuckmeyer reported Sunday night, Hoerner was great too.
Now with Joc Pederson on the 10-day injured list, Hoerner was called up and has already delivered four hits and three RBIs.
Hoerner was asked if he feels like a different hitter in his latest chance in the big leagues.
“I’m never going to completely change who I am as a hitter. The core values of contact is going to be at the heart of my game forever, and I think it’s taking that skill set and then building on it, and knowing it’s not totally flipping who I am, it’s just making the most of what I can do – and to continue to do that,” Hoerner said. “It’s so great to be back here with, you know, all the players. Just talking the game, I’ve learned so much in the last year, and it’s been really, really fun just getting back into that rhythm.”
Hoerner’s defense has never been the issue. He was in the conversation for a Gold Glove last year, and made another heads-up play in an otherwise disappointing game against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.
Hoerner teamed up with Javy Baez and let the ball drop to double-up the Brewers.
“That was a total group effort. That does not happen if he’s not yelling in my year, because pop-ups – especially on a day like this – your head is definitely on the ball, not on the runner. So great communication, and that was a big play for us, for sure,” Hoerner said. “It was fun.”
“I think that’s just who he is,” said Cubs Manager David Ross. “He’s such a smart baseball player. Javy’s screaming at him, he’s not running, he’s not running. I think it’s great communication between the middle infielders – awareness. I think there’s just a sense of being a great baseball player, and his IQ is extremely high. You love that type of stuff – it’s just that extra – that baseball mentality, and that and the communication between the middle infielders. That’s one that really makes you smile, and I’ll hold onto that one.”
Pederson did not travel to Atlanta to take on the Braves, so Hoerner will have more opportunities this week.