Subscribe for 33¢ / day
Cubs Happ Baseball

A year ago, the Cubs' Ian Happ, above, was a top prospect looking for a spot on the crowded roster of the Chicago Cubs. Now he is looking to build off an impressive rookie season. 


A year ago, Ian Happ was just looking for a spot on the Chicago Cubs' crowded roster. The touted prospect took balls in the outfield and soaked in the atmosphere of his first big league spring training camp.

This time around, it's a much different situation. The 23-year-old Happ is working on an encore for his impressive rookie season.

"It was a very similar offseason for me as far as preparation, but it was a different mindset," he said. "It was more of understanding of where I needed to get my body. It wasn't guesswork. I knew where I needed to get my body coming into spring training. I had goals and I was able to achieve them."

The 23-year-old Happ also looked good in spring training last year, but he began the season with Triple-A Iowa. After a solid start in the minors, Happ was promoted to Chicago in May and hit .253 with 24 homers and 68 RBIs in 115 games, helping the Cubs make it all the way to the NL Championship Series for the third straight year.

Doesn't look like he is headed back to Iowa anytime soon.

A switch hitter who was selected by Chicago with the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft, Happ started in center and hit leadoff Thursday for the fourth time this spring training. 

"You know the league is going to continue to adjust to you," Happ said. "It happens throughout your first year and then it's going to happen again this year, so you just have to continue to improve yourself, continue learning how to hit more pitches and learn the game."

Happ played second base most of the time while he was in the minors, but it looks as if he is ticketed for the outfield this summer. The Cubs have Javier Baez and Ben Zobrist at second, and Happ looks comfortable on the grass after making 82 appearances in the outfield last season, including 41 starts in center.

But his biggest value for Chicago might be at the plate.

The leadoff spot was a season-long problem for the Cubs last year after Dexter Fowler signed with St. Louis in free agency. The .246 batting average for the No. 1 hitter in Chicago's lineup was good for 24th in the majors, and the .324 on-base percentage was ranked No. 18.

Rockies 2, Cubs 2: Happ connected for his third spring homer, a two-run drive in the third inning, in a tie against Colorado at Mesa, Ariz.

The exhibition was supposed to be the spring training debut for right-hander Yu Darvish, who finalized a $126 million, six-year deal with the Cubs on Feb. 13. But he has been battling an illness and opted for a two-inning bullpen session and a little batting practice.

Darvish said he is OK and the move was just a precaution. The delay means he likely will pitch in his first game for Chicago on Tuesday against the Dodgers, his former team.

"He's not horribly ill, but he's had this thing with his stomach," manager Joe Maddon said. "We're concerned about dehydration. If he goes out there and pitches, sweats a little bit and pulls something, that's not smart."

Reds 8, White Sox 7: Eugenio Suarez went 3 for 3 with a double and his replacement, Cliff Pennington, went 2 for 2 for Cincinnat at Goodyear, Ariz. Reynaldo Lopez allowed one run on one hit and two walks in two innings for Chicago.


Load comments