Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon doesn’t want you to read too much into the first lineup in spring training, but it was the first of many auditions to get the leadoff spot for the 2018 season.
Before the Cubs began Cactus League play against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday, Maddon said four players were under consideration to be the team’s leadoff man in 2018.
Who won’t it be? Kris Bryant.
Maddon said four players under consideration for leadoff spot. Bryant not in that group.
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) February 23, 2018
Ian Happ is a part of that group that will get looks at the leadoff position in spring training and that’s where he batted against the Brewers Friday.
However, Maddon only gave out Happ’s name to start, but also said Kyle Schwarber could be given another shot at leading off as well.
Joe Maddon made out his lineup today with a purpose. He says Ian Happ will be one of 3-4 players they try out at the top of the order this spring. He didn't go into detail but said Kyle Schwarber could get some looks there again. Schwarber is batting… https://t.co/nMpA6FFN4t
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) February 23, 2018
No other names were given, however, it’s not too hard to figure out that Albert Almora Jr. is most likely in that group of 3-4 guys. We could also see Ben Zobrist at the leadoff spot, but of course that depends on how much he plays and if he can stay healthy following a down 2017. The playing time and healthy will go hand in hand, although it’s clear now that Javier Baez has secured most of the starting time at second base.
Happ led off for #Cubs today. Maddon: "We're going to try to audition the dudes who we think will be in that spot. There's nothing to be read into it. it's a Spring Training lineup." Also will see Schwarber, Almora
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) February 23, 2018
As far as Happ’s first look leading off this spring, he flew out deep to the warning track in his first at-bat and then grounded out in his second. He started in center field and did make this awesome catch.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) February 23, 2018
So, there’s something to keep your eye on this spring, as there are few roster spots up for grabs, but the leadoff spot can be anyone’s to win.