The Cubs have been waiting for Ian Happ to find his rhythm in the batter's box. Finally, their leadoff man looked the part again on Sunday, only to be forced to exit in the aftermath of a scary collision with second baseman Nico Hoerner in center field.
Moments after launching a game-tying home run for the Cubs, Happ was carted off the field in the eighth inning of an eventual 13-12 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Manager David Ross said he was encouraged by his postgame chat with Happ.
"I checked in," Ross said. "I talked to Ian. He feels fine. Pretty good blow to the face. I haven't heard the doctor's report yet, but I did talk to Ian and he's in good spirits."
Ross said there would be more information on Happ's status and progress ahead of Monday's game against the Dodgers.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Happ and Hoerner collided while chasing down a looping fly ball to shallow center off the bat of Tyler Stephenson. Hoerner made a running catch, but he struck Happ hard on his way to the ground.
The center fielder appeared to have a bloody nose and was struggling to keep his balance after getting to his feet under the supervision of Cubs head athletic trainer P.J. Mainville. The Cubs had Happ removed from the field via a medical cart.
"Seeing that really kind of got to me," said Kris Bryant, who was playing left field at the time. "Kind of hearing the two of them come together like that, kind of being close to it, yeah, I don't want to see that again.
"Thankfully, he's in there, and I was talking to him. Made sure to let him know that he had a great game."
In the top of the eighth, Happ launched a three-run homer off Tejay Antone that pulled the game into a 12-12 deadlock. It marked the fifth homer of the day for the Cubs, the 10th shot in the game overall and the third hit for Happ.
Happ was recently given a break from leading off to focus on his swing behind the scenes and to have "less on his plate," according to Ross. On Saturday, the outfielder snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a single. One day later, he had his first multi-hit showing of the season.
Happ doubled on the first pitch from Reds starter Tyler Mahle in the first inning, and scored on a Bryant double. It marked Happ's first extra-base hit since April 4. The center fielder reached base three times and also scored a season-high three runs before leaving the game.
"He did a nice job, a nice day," Ross said. "Big home run. It looks like he's starting to get going."
On the season, Happ is slashing .167/.307/.250 through 26 games, following a breakout showing in 2020 that landed him the everyday job in center and atop the lineup.
"I got a front-row seat right there for the homer," Bryant said. "Hopefully there's nothing too serious with him and he can continue to do what he did today, because that was huge just for us as a team and him in general."