Chicago Cubs: When will it be Albert Almora Jr.’s shot?

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs have had a healthy dose of Ian Happ–with good results–in the leadoff spot. With Jason Heyward getting a shot as well, when is it Albert Almora Jr.’s turn?

When the Chicago Cubs have put Ian Happ in the leadoff spot, he’s responded. Happ is 5-for-13 with three home runs and five RBI for the Cubs. He’s slashing a .385/.429/1.154 and is doing his fair share leading the charge. Jason Heyward has gotten a few chances to lead off, as well. But it begs the question, when will it be Albert Almora Jr.’s turn?

Some seem to think that Joe Maddon doesn’t “like” Almora. I think that is the farthest from the truth. But a little over a week and a half in, Almora still hasn’t gotten his chance. Now, with almost a month of games to play, he very likely will soon. Maddon is trying to keep some continuity with these hitters, not spacing out the opportunities at leadoff.

More from Cubbies Crib

So far, not so good

But even with that, Almora hasn’t impressed much early on here this spring. Almora is 0-for-13 with two strikeouts this spring. Again, small sample size. But either Almora is trying too hard when he gets his chance, or he’s a little lost at the plate.

The other difficulty lies in the handedness of the pitcher. For Almora, he’ll need to prove himself against right-handers. It’s different for Happ as he’s a switch hitter.

Need to prove it vs. righties

When they sub in different pitchers, he’s not affected. But Almora will need to get swings against righties. In spring training, that’s all but impossible to gauge with a large bullpen of pitchers to pick from.

Maddon may be waiting for teams to use their regulars on a normal basis. This way when a pitcher–a right-hander–might go a few innings before getting pulled, Almora will get his shot at him. It’s tough for Maddon to play the lefty/righty game when you just don’t know that you’re going to face.

This is something that Maddon and Almora could have already talked about. But if it is, Almora needs to calm himself at the plate and work to get some hits. Going 0-for isn’t going to help his case, leading the game off, or not.

Next: Reflecting on Wood's time as a Cub

Heyward has gotten a chance here and there, but I really can’t see him being a legitimate threat to lead off. I joked that if he hit leadoff, he couldn’t ground into double plays. I was only half kidding when I said that. Happ has performed well, much like he did last spring. But will he be able to transition that over to the regular season?

The Cubs don’t know who their leadoff man will be. Heck, Kyle Schwarber may get a chance again if we’re trying out Heyward in the top spot. You might not like Maddon and his ways. But you can’t fault him for trying new things when there isn’t a clear answer for him.