MESA, Ariz. -- The experience Albert Almora Jr. absorbed last year down the stretch and in the World Series figures to serve him well, as he heads into what could be an even bigger year for the 22-year-old center fielder.Presented with the opportunity to play for the Cubs on a
MESA, Ariz. -- The experience Albert Almora Jr. absorbed last year down the stretch and in the World Series figures to serve him well, as he heads into what could be an even bigger year for the 22-year-old center fielder.
Presented with the opportunity to play for the Cubs on a regular basis this season, Almora enters 2017 with his rookie status intact and a treasure trove of Major League experience, having debuted in June and ending the season by scoring the go-ahead run in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series.
As he approaches this important juncture in his career, Almora arrived to camp ready for anything and everything this year. Not one to limit his focus, he's taking it all in and covering all the bases.
"I am a person that I love working on everything," Almora said on Saturday. "I always say to people if I just focus on one thing and not worry about other things and get complacent with just one aspect of my game, then it's time to go. I feel you can always learn and pick up things in every aspect of the game, so I'm trying to learn in everything I do from baserunning to defense to offense to the mental side -- everything."
• Cubs Spring Training: Schedule | Information | Tickets
After a small physical issue with a sore left calf earlier this week, Almora returned to action on Friday by going 1-for-3 with a triple against the Mariners. Best of all, any issues with the calf were in the past.
"It was a little tight, and it's still early in the spring, so I'd rather stay out a day and a half or two with an off-day too than have it linger longer," Almora said. "I felt fast, so everything's good."
The Cubs are aware of his speed. They know Almora, slated to share time in center with fellow Miamian and friend Jonathan Jay, can field his position. What they need to find out is how well he can hit on a regular basis in the Majors and if he is able to bring a little more power to his game.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon likes what he sees thus far from Almora.
"I've been watching batting practice and what they've been working on," Maddon said. "You're seeing the ball in the air more, so you're starting to see the power potential realized, and he's being patient at the plate."
Maddon said he doesn't want to change Almora's approach too much, hoping for fewer strikeouts while not curbing his aggressiveness. Beyond that, he has a sense that Almora is ready to handle the opportunities ahead of him, thanks in part to last year's experience behind him.
"I think he kind of established himself to himself last year also as being a Major League player," Maddon said. "Right now, he just needs opportunity like a lot of our young guys do. He's ready to roll."
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB.