Before the regular season dawned, the Chicago Cubs sent utility player Ian Happ to Triple-A Iowa, hoping to see him adjust his approach at the plate.
Recently, Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs made a couple of roster moves involving infielder Addison Russell and backup catcher Victor Caritini. Caritini returned from a left-hand fracture on Thursday while Russell rejoined the big league club following his suspension.
This group has been playing excellent baseball despite being without utility man Ben Zobrist and first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Zobrist hasn’t been with the team due to personal matters and Rizzo is nursing a sore back – an issue that’s popped up at times throughout the years.
While there is no timetable for the former’s return, Rizzo could be back in the lineup just in time for a weekend meeting with the Washington Nationals according to Jordan Bastian via Twitter.
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As for outfielder Ian Happ, the road to returning to the big league club is still in flux. Remember, he was sent to Iowa in order to fix his glaring strikeout problem. The former first-round pick whiffed 296 times over the course of two seasons of major league action.
Having him start out the year with the Triple-A affiliate was a smart move by the front office and will serve as a saving grace for Happ himself, considering his power and fielding ability.
Still, there is plenty of room for him to grow as a ballplayer which is exciting for those invested in this organization as a whole.
Hold on a bit
There is no doubt Happ has what it takes to emerge as a cornerstone for an outfield that includes the likes of Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber. Aside from Happ, people are watching or at least waiting to see how Albert Almora improves at the plate as well.
Almora has provided some defensive highlights but is only hitting .254/.292/.669 entering Thursday evening’s series finale with the Reds.
Although Happ has made some improvements, he’s still striking out. Granted he has only made a little under 40 starts thus far, Happ has recorded more strikeouts than he has hits. Ahead of Iowa’s showdown with New Orleans, the 24-year-old slugger was 8-for-35 with one home run, three RBI, 12 walks, and eight strikeouts in 10 games.
So, he’s not quite there just yet and there’s no need to rush the process only to make things worse. Hopefully, he’ll start to see the ball better during the late half of May, entering June in hopes of being called up before or shortly after the All-Star Break. It would be nice seeing him back in Joe Maddon‘s lineup where he believes he belongs.