MILWAUKEE -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon is not getting involved in Jason Heyward's hitting mechanics, but he did take time on Saturday to talk to the outfielder."He knows we support him," Maddon said. "I talked to him a little, and not as a pep talk but to reinforce him. I
MILWAUKEE -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon is not getting involved in Jason Heyward's hitting mechanics, but he did take time on Saturday to talk to the outfielder.
"He knows we support him," Maddon said. "I talked to him a little, and not as a pep talk but to reinforce him. I told him, 'You look really good, just keep trusting what you're doing.'"
Heyward did look good on Sunday, driving in three runs in the Cubs' 7-4 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park. He hit a two-run triple in the first and an RBI single in the seventh, and he should've had another extra-base hit in the ninth, but Keon Broxton made a leaping catch at the wall in center field. Was the ball going to clear the fence?
"I don't know," Broxton said. "I know I had to jump pretty high to go get it."
Heyward tipped his batting helmet after the catch.
Even Broxton can see a difference in Heyward.
"I can tell he's swinging it well, not even by the hard contact he made but by seeing the balls he's 'spitting on,'" Broxton said. "It's a lot different from what we saw last year, that's for sure."
That's what Heyward and the Cubs are hoping for. He batted .230 in his first season in Chicago, and he moved to Arizona to spend the offseason working on his swing with hitting coaches John Mallee and Eric Hinske at the Cubs' complex.
"I'm relaxed up there, not thinking a whole lot," Heyward said of his approach now. "I'm really trying to focus on what the pitcher's going to do, how they're going to attack you, that kind of stuff, and not thinking about the swing or anything like that, which is where you need to be as a hitter. Go up there and do that and be aggressive in the strike zone, be on time, relax and go up there one pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time -- same stuff as anybody else who is trying to do well."
Maddon likes what he has seen, too.
"I like where his hands are positioned, I like that his hands are more involved now," Maddon said. "He's staying through the ball longer. I've seen a natural progression through the beginning of camp. I like the setup to begin with. I thought it was entirely different than what I'd seen in the past.
"I also want him to be patient with it. You're not going to see results overnight. Everybody wants to pour water on it and have it turn into what they want."
Heyward now has a hit in each of the five games he has played. He knows he still has work to do.
"I just go up there and let the game take care of itself, hit it hard, try to hit it hard, and see what happens," Heyward said. "You know it's not going to be perfect."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.