Chicago Cubs

Ian Happ Shines in Lead-Off Audition for Chicago Cubs

Ian Happ is one of several Chicago Cubs players being considered for the lead-off spot in the order this season, and he made a strong case for the job with his performance Sunday.

Happ, who blasted 24 home runs during his rookie season, went deep off of San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner to lead-off the game and drove in a pair of runs on the day as the Cubs won a 12-10 slugfest in Scottsdale.

The competition for the lead-off job is intense this year after Dexter Fowler left the ball club following the 2016 season and after Jon Jay wasn’t brought back following the 2017 campaign. Happ will be competing primarily with outfielder Albert Almora Jr., who batted lead-off on Saturday against Texas.

Kyle Schwarber, who was used in the lead-off spot at times in 2017, went 2-for-3 for the Cubs in the game, and Mike Freeman scorched a two-RBI double in the contest as the team was able to out-slug San Francisco.

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News and Notes:

-Schwarber was also deadly on the basepaths as he showcased his slimmed-down frame. He stole a pair of bases in the game, both of which he racked up with Bumgarner on the hill.

-Bumgarner was touched up for three runs in 1.2 innings of work, but all five of his outs were recorded by way of the strikeout in his spring debut for the Giants.

-Catcher Chris Gimenez has already showcased some skill this spring, with three RBI and a pair of hits in six at-bats in Cactus League play. Two of those RBI came on Sunday against the Giants.

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What’s Next:

The Cubs will face another ace on Monday as Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners visit Sloan Park in Mesa. Tyler Chatwood will make his spring debut with his new team after signing a three-year deal with the club over the offseason.

Jon Lester will pitch against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, and Kyle Hendricks will face the Oakland A’s on Wednesday. 

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