Heyward happy to help in Cubs' leadoff auditions

Bryant back for 2nd straight game; Chatwood 'sharper' vs. Reds

March 3rd, 2018

MESA, Ariz. -- Manager Joe Maddon says he's holding auditions for the next Cubs leadoff man. considers it more of an experiment.

In his first game this spring batting leadoff on Friday, Heyward went 1-for-3 with a double to left-center. On Saturday, it was 's turn again in the No. 1 spot, and he went 0-for-3 in the Cubs' 7-4 win over the Reds.

Heyward will get another opportunity there this spring as Maddon tries to sort things out.

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"It could be [an audition] in his mind, but I'm here to play whenever or wherever," Heyward said Saturday. "We're all aware [Maddon] can be different any time. Wherever we're asked to go that day, we have to be ready."

The Cubs rotated 11 batters in the No. 1 spot last season after relying on for two years.

"I feel like there is something to be said about having somebody there and somebody who has enough at-bats in that one spot to allow everyone else to settle in and relax and not overthink things," Heyward said. "You see that with Dex, you see it with other teams who have a permanent leadoff guy."

Cubs Spring Training info

Cubs 7, Reds 4

Third baseman , who was sidelined this week by an illness, started his second straight game on Saturday and doubled in the first inning. Ali Solis smacked a three-run homer in the seventh inning, and hit a pair of doubles, driving in a run with a hit in the fifth. La Stella also scored on 's single in the second.

walked one and struck out one over two innings in his second Cactus League start.

"I felt sharper," Chatwood said. "My fastball command was sharper and my two-seam movement was crisper today."

Saturday's game drew 15,516, the second largest crowd in Cubs and Cactus League history.

Running man

Maddon isn't looking for the Cubs to lead the National League in stolen bases -- last year, they ranked 12th with 62 -- but what they do on the bases is important.

"Everybody talks about basestealing when you talk about baserunning," Maddon said. "Basestealing is a small subsection of baserunning. I want us to be known as the best baserunning team in baseball. The best stolen-base team would be wonderful -- that means you have a lot of speed. But I want the group that goes first to third, second to home, works good secondary leads, advances on balls in the dirt."

Worth noting

• How skinny is ? Maddon didn't recognize the outfielder during a baserunning drill.

"The first time he did [the drill], I didn't know who it was -- I looked up and said, 'Oh, it's Schwarbs,'" Maddon said. "With better technique and continued work, and a better frame to work from, I'm curious to watch this whole thing."

and his wife, Emma, hosted a Special Olympics athlete, Ella Stoklosa, 27, of Wheeling, Ill., in Mesa on Saturday. Ella, who has Down syndrome, competes in nine events.

Injury updates

has yet to play in a game but is continuing to make progress. He's been dealing with back issues since arriving in Arizona in mid-February.

• Reliever also has not entered a game. He is dealing with a sore left calf.

What's next

will make his second Cactus League start on Sunday when the Cubs travel to Scottsdale to face the D-backs. Lester went 1 2/3 innings in his first start, giving up one run on one hit and two walks while striking out three. Listen live at 2:10 p.m. CT on Gameday Audio.