Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Happ hits 3rd HR in quest for leadoff spot

Center fielder on power surge early at Cubs camp
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MESA, Ariz. -- Ian Happ hit five home runs in 60 at-bats last spring. The Cubs outfielder is well ahead of that pace this year.

Happ belted his third spring homer in four games in the Cubs' 2-2 tie against the Rockies on Thursday in front of 10,167 at Sloan Park.

View Full Game Coverage

MESA, Ariz. -- Ian Happ hit five home runs in 60 at-bats last spring. The Cubs outfielder is well ahead of that pace this year.

Happ belted his third spring homer in four games in the Cubs' 2-2 tie against the Rockies on Thursday in front of 10,167 at Sloan Park.

View Full Game Coverage

Happ connected with one out in the third off the Rockies' Sam Howard. This spring, Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have been splitting the leadoff duties, and so far, Happ is 5-for-10 while Almora is 0-for-7.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Alec Mills, subbing for Yu Darvish, who was scratched from the game because he was ill, started and struck out three of the seven batters he faced.

Rockies prospect Sam Hilliard tied the game with a two-run homer in the eighth off Daniel Camarena.

Bryant on the mend
Third baseman Kris Bryant was back on the field and may return to the lineup on Friday if he feels better, manager Joe Maddon said.

Bryant has been battling an illness that forced him to be scratched from Monday's game. He's played in only one game this spring.

"If this day goes well, you probably will see him [Friday]," Maddon said.

Video: Maddon on Darvish's missed start, Bryant's illness

Injury updates
Ben Zobrist, who has been dealing with back issues since arriving in Arizona, could get into a game early next week. He's been hitting in the batting cages.

• Reliever Pedro Strop has yet to get in a game because of a sore left calf.

"It's nothing horrible," Maddon said. "We had to hold him back. He's been throwing and playing catch. We don't want to push him on the mound either."

Drill bits
It isn't just the coaches who run the Cubs' bunt defense drills. First baseman Anthony Rizzo not only is a big part of how effective the drill is, but also takes charge.

"You can't do it without him," Maddon said of Rizzo. "There might be a couple other first basemen you might try it with, but part of it is Anthony has a lot of good suggestions. He really thinks it through well. That's been a synergistic moment out there -- it's not just me dictating."

Rizzo apparently suggested something that Maddon said he hasn't had the nerve to do. Maddon wouldn't reveal what it is exactly, saying fans will just have to wait.

Morrow plan
New Cubs closer Brandon Morrow has yet to appear in a game but will make five to six appearances before Spring Training is over. Expect to see Morrow early in games and not in save situations so he can face better batters.

Video: Morrow on taking over closer role, 2017 postseason

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Ian Happ