A no-look, between-the-legs flip to first ... and it's only spring!

February 20th, 2024

Just a few days into camp and Craig Counsell has already lauded 's defense and his ability to "make adjustments very quickly," but the first-year Cubs manager couldn't have imagined anything like this.

Leave it to a Gold Glover to turn what looked like a routine play into anything but.

During ground-ball drills at camp on Monday, the second baseman charged a slow chopper. As he tried to scoop it, the ball bounced off the heel of his glove and then his body. Nobody would have blamed Hoerner if he simply let it go. It's spring, after all. Instead, he snagged the ball on a bounce off the grass, took a couple of steps and -- hut, hut, hike! -- whipped a no-look rope between his legs to first base.

Cubs fans have come to expect this wizardry from Hoerner, who had 13 outs above average and 12 defensive runs saved en route to his first Gold Glove Award last season.

"I think what Nico has done early in his career, how you step into the league and is so solid right off the bat, is hard to do," Counsell said.

As for Monday's play, there was no runner, so we'll never know if it would have resulted in an out. But it's only February and he's already turning heads.

"It's kind of how Nico is wired," Counsell said. "He's a very intelligent player. ... His defense is special."