Watch Nico Hoerner flash the leather in Cubs' exhibition against Team Canada
When the Chicago Cubs signed shortstop Dansby Swanson this offseason, the team not only upgraded at shortstop but also upgraded at second base. Incumbent Cubs' shortstop Nico Hoerner switched back to second base and the expectation has been that he and Swanson will be among the best middle infield defense in all of Major League Baseball.
Hoerner nearly won the National League Gold Glove award in 2019 while playing second base and Wednesday, in the Cubs' exhibition game against Team Canada, the team's starting second baseman flashed his defensive excellence.
The goal for the Cubs in 2023 is to prevent runs and stop rallies with their defense. Hoerner's double play on Wednesday showed the importance of that philosophy as it ended an inning where starting pitcher Justin Steele was getting hit hard.
Wednesday's game against Team Canada is strictly an exhibition game and has no bearing on Spring Training stats for the Cubs. Though, that didn't prevent Cubs' catcher Tucker Barnhart from hitting his first unofficial home run with the team.
Barnhart was targeted by the Cubs this past offseason due to his ability to manage a team's pitching staff. Having said that, there is a belief that Barnhart's offensive numbers will return to respectable figures now that he is no longer with the Detroit Tigers and batting from strictly the left side of the plate.
The Cubs return to their Cactus League schedule on Thursday when they play the Cincinnati Reds.