Heyward suggests lineup shift to benefit team
Cubs outfielder volunteers to bat lower, where he can provide veteran presence amid rookies
CHICAGO -- Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward told manager Joe Maddon to move him down in the lineup if necessary to get an experienced bat mixed into the order because of all the rookies who have been added. On Monday, Heyward batted sixth for the first time this season.
"I brought it up to [Maddon] to not be afraid, because we have so many young guys in the lineup right now," Heyward said Monday. "I told him, 'Don't be afraid to move me down to give them presence around them, so it doesn't feel like you have these guys at the top and you get to the bottom and it's, rookie, rookie, rookie, rookie.'
"I know it can be easier on the opposing pitcher when it's, 'OK, I'll just make some pitches here, and we're good to go,'" Heyward said. "That's part of what Joe and I talked about. I brought it up to him. I said, 'Don't be afraid to do that. If you need to make some changes because of where we're at, we're missing guys, I'm not going to take any offense to it.'"
Heyward promptly made the move pay off, highlighting a three-run first inning with a two-run double that sparked the Cubs to a 10-4 rout of the Reds.
Heyward has batted second primarily in his first season with the Cubs, but he was shifted into the leadoff spot a few times recently while Dexter Fowler rehabs from a hamstring injury. The Cubs have recently added rookies Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr. and Jeimer Candelario.
• Fowler hopes to be healthy for first All-Star Game
Maddon said he moved Heyward down to "give him a little break out of the two-hole and get him going in the right direction." Heyward was batting .231 overall and went 8-for-39 on the 11-game road trip. He said he feels as if he's facing a lot of pitchers with whom he isn't familiar.
"That's just an adjustment -- that's not an excuse," Heyward said.
Maddon said he may keep Heyward lower in the order leading up to the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard.
"You've got a week before the All-Star break, and I thought it was a good time to give it a test drive," Maddon said.
• According to MLB.com's Jim Callis, the Cubs' third-round pick in the 2016 Draft, Thomas Hatch, has agreed to terms and will undergo a physical on Tuesday. Hatch, a right-handed pitcher who starred at Oklahoma State, was the Cubs' highest pick this year. The team has not confirmed the signing.
Cubs' Draft Tracker
• The Cubs named Double-A Tennessee infielder Ian Happ and Class A South Bend right-handed pitcher Preston Morrison as the Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for June, respectively.
Happ, 21, batted .422 with nine doubles, four homers, 13 runs scored and 21 RBIs in 26 games combined with Tennessee and Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. The infielder was the Cubs' first-round Draft pick in 2015.
Morrison, 22, went 4-1 with a 0.83 ERA in five June starts, giving up three earned runs over 32 2/3 innings. He struck out 26 in that stretch. He's posted an 8-3 record and 2.68 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) at South Bend.
Morrison was selected by the Cubs in the eighth round of the 2015 Draft out of Texas Christian University.
• Infielder Tommy La Stella, rehabbing from a right hamstring strain, was scheduled to start for Triple-A Iowa on Monday. La Stella went 0-for-4 on Sunday. He was 4-for-18 in five games with the Minor League team.