Slow start nothing new for Cubs' Heyward

May 12th, 2016
"I've been a slow starter," Jason Heyward said Wednesday. "I've done that before and bounced back." (AP)

CHICAGO -- One year ago at this time, Jason Heyward was batting .259 for the Cardinals. After Wednesday's doubleheader against the Padres, Heyward was batting .216 with the Cubs and had yet to hit a home run. Every long fly ball by Heyward at Wrigley Field is greeted by an expectant cheer from the fans.

On Wednesday, he went 2-for-7 in the two games against the Padres, collecting an infield hit in the 7-4 loss in the first game and a single in the first inning in the second, a 1-0 loss. After Heyward signed an eight-year, $184 million contract this offseason, some Cubs fans expect him to go 4-for-4 every night.

"I've been a slow starter," Heyward said Wednesday. "I've done that before and bounced back, and then you look back, and nobody's thinking about [what happened in] April and May. It's not something you want to have happen. I did make some strides on the road trip we had in St. Louis and Cincinnati, I had a good series in Cincy and then the wrist got me. That's no excuse -- it's a part of the game.

"Once I get timing back, it'll be great and everything will be good," he said. "We're 25 [wins] and whatever, so that helps. We have a lot of guys who want to be doing better than we are now, but we're doing what we can for the team."

Heyward missed the Cubs' three-game series in Pittsburgh because of a sore right wrist that he hurt in early April during a workout in the Arizona series. He said the wrist is fine. It's his timing that's a problem.

"It feels like when I do hit it hard, it's going right at people," Heyward said. "I feel like right now, I'm trying to get my timing back and do what I can do.

"There's nothing wrong with the [swing] plane or anything like that," he said. "Timing-wise, it's off. If you're not on time, you're not going to make the best decisions, you're not going to get the results."

Manager Joe Maddon wasn't worried about the right fielder.

"He's pulled some balls hard foul and he's hit some balls hard at people," Maddon said. "I feel really good about him. I think he's going to turn it around really soon."

Jon Lester admitted that he did press last year trying to honor the six-year, $155 million deal he signed with the Cubs prior to the 2015 season. Maddon didn't sense that was a problem with Heyward.

"I'm really not concerned," Maddon said. "He's going to be just fine."