As he contends for a spot in center, Ian Happ enjoying another strong Spring for the Cubs
MESA, Ariz. – Perhaps the two biggest, and maybe only, question coming into Spring Training that the Cubs had concerning their everyday roster is who would be the person playing center and who might be leading off.
Over the past few weeks, one guy could end up answering both.
Certainly Ian Happ has given himself a shot to earn a spot in the everyday lineup as he once again is enjoying an incredible run of Spring Training games.
Another hit on Wednesday against the Royals gives him nine hits in 28 Spring Training at-bats which rises his average to .393 in the Cactus League. That includes a team-high five home runs along with nine RBI’s in eleven games. It’s a performance that’s been among the most noticable on a Cubs team loaded with experience and expectations.
In the process, Happ has become the leading contender to take the day-to-day centerfield starting spot, which was in flux for a good amount of the 2017 season. He came into camp in competition with Albert Almora Jr for the spot, but his .194 average appears to give the edge to Happ in the early going.
While he’s pleased with his hitting in camp, Happ is more concerned about his consistency playing in center field itself.
“I feel comfortable swinging the bat, I’m seeing the ball well and just having a lot of quality at-bats, feeling really comfortable in center field too,” said Happ. “I just really worked on getting my body in shape for being able to play the outfield everyday, being a little big more agile and being a little more comfortable everyday. That’s important.”
Such a start isn’t new for Happ, who was one of the best players in camp in 2017. He hit .383 with five homers and 21 RBIs. That along with his play at Triple-A Iowa earned him a call-up to the majors in May, and in his rookie year Happ hit .253 with 24 homers and 68 RBIs with a .328 on base percentage.