CHICAGO – Ian Happ could find himself the next Cubs player to stock his locker with multiple gloves.
Happ, the rookie called up over the weekend, started Wednesday night’s 7-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in center field.
Since coming up, Happ also has started in right field and has played left.
At Triple-A Iowa, Happ also played second base.
“He definitely was making some great strides with that,” said manager Joe Maddon. “He was doing a nice job in the minor leagues. I’m just seeing an interesting, all-over-the-map kind of a guy. As long as he can handle it mentally, not unlike KB (Kris Bryant).
“You’ve got these young guys that are really good, that are willing to this. And now is the time to do it with them. If you wait a couple years and ask them to start moving around, that’s when it becomes more difficult. But when you’re doing it young and it’s a part of their landscape, it becomes somewhat easier. And it’s good. It’s good for them. It’s good for us.”
Maddon added that he is “willing to see him at second but I don’t think we have to right now.” It’s also possible Happ could play the corner infield spots, if need be.
When he came up, Happ said he was happy to do it all.
“I think that was one of the big things for me in Triple-A, was to finally to play more of that style, where you start at second, go to right, start in left, go to second, do a bunch of that and kind of bounce around and play some center, too,” he said. “I think that was a great experience for me. Comfortable in all the outfield spots and second base, too. I’m ready to help the team in any way.”
With his power and good eye at the plate, Happ does not appear to be going anywhere soon. If he stays, he’ll likely join Bryant, Ben Zobrist and Javier Baez as guys who can thrive on versatility.
Bryant, for all his early stardom, has never balked at being that guy.
“He likes it,” Maddon said. “Like last year, getting all this feedback like it’s going to impede him from being this or being (that). I heard it for two years. Rookie of the Year and MVP, that’s not being impeded. I think there’s a freshness about it when you have confidence you can do it. If you come to the ballpark and all of a sudden you see your name in left field, you’re at third base, whatever, it’s kind of cool to be moved around a little bit. I think it actually takes pressure off your offense. I’ve had no negatives with him whatsoever.”
In Wednesday’s game, the Cubs scored five runs against Scott Feldman in the second inning and chased him with two more in the third. Kyle Schwarber had a two-run single in the second. Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks worked six innings, giving up six hits and two runs.
• Follow Bruce Miles’ Cubs and baseball reports on Twitter @BruceMiles2112.