How Ian Happ could force the issue and stick with Cubs

How Ian Happ could force the issue and stick with Cubs

ST. LOUIS – Ian Happ pivoted from his talking points when a reporter mentioned his reputation as a defender, flashing another side to the reserved, professional demeanor the Cubs noticed in spring training as he blended in with the defending World Series champs.        

“I don’t know where that came from,” Happ said. “Everybody does their scouting reports coming out of college and that was just something that caught wind and caught a little bit of helium.

“It’s blown up that I stink at fielding. So I’m not really sure how that came about, but I feel like I can play multiple positions well. And that’s what I try to do.”

Manager Joe Maddon brought it up during his media session after Happ made another strong impression in Sunday’s 5-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium: “He’s always been branded as a hitter, but he’s a lot more than that.”

The day after blasting a two-run homer off Carlos Martinez in his big-league debut, Happ got two hits off Adam Wainwright, made a sliding catch in right field and moved over to play center. That in-game flexibility as a switch-hitter and a second baseman is what the Cubs envisioned when they drafted Happ out of the University of Cincinnati with the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft.

The last two pennant races have seen Theo Epstein’s front office aggressively promote prospects like Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr. and Willson Contreras, with Maddon’s coaching staff trusting them in key moments for playoff teams. So while the Cubs made this decision in response to a wave of injuries, Happ’s offensive upside and defensive versatility could force the issue again.     

“Absolutely, if he keeps doing (this), it’s hard to say that you don’t want him here any longer,” Maddon said. “There’s other ways to fit him in. But, again, all I want him to do is attack today. Literally, enjoy the moment. Don’t overthink it. Control what he can. Again, I don’t want to go psychobabble. But that’s what he needs to do.

“We know how good he is. We know what he means to our future. Go play, and let us figure out the rest. Of course, the team, roster-wise, is in a state of flux now, based on different guys being banged up. But all Ian has to worry about is to continue to do what he did in camp, what he’s been doing at Triple-A, and let us make that decision.”

Staying in character, Happ will try not to think about those big-picture discussions over developing every day at Iowa vs. being on call for an 18-19 team looking for a spark.

“Come to the park every day, try to help the team win,” Happ said. “That’s all I can do."

Cubs Talk Podcast: Where do Cubs go from here with Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis?


Cubs Talk Podcast: Where do Cubs go from here with Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis?

In the latest CubsTalk Podcast, Kelly Crull and David Kaplan look ahead to Thanksgiving and discuss the official coaching hires for the Cubs.

They also talk about where the Cubs go from here with Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis, whether Alex Cobb could factor into the rotation plans and Kap goes off on the 11:30 a.m. Opening Day start time.

Check out the entire podcast here:

NBC Sports Chicago to deliver a Chicago baseball Thanksgiving Day marathon


NBC Sports Chicago to deliver a Chicago baseball Thanksgiving Day marathon

15-straight hours of “Classic” Cubs and White Sox full game replays from the 2017 season gets underway at 9:00 AM CT

NBC Sports Chicago live stream available 24/7 on  or via the NBC Sports app

Chicago, IL (November 21, 2017) -- NBC Sports Chicago, the multi-platform home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox, will provide its viewers with a special 15-hour Thanksgiving Day marathon featuring four, thrilling “Classic” games from this past Cubs & White Sox season beginning this Thursday, November 23 at 9:00 AM CT. 

NBC Sports Chicago will also live stream this Classic games marathon to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers on or via the NBC Sports app.  NOTE: MLB game replays will only be made available to those viewers within NBC Sports Chicago’s regular MLB viewing territory.

Note NBC Sports Chicago’s Thanksgiving Day Cubs & White Sox “Classics” game marathon line-up below (all times Central Time):


9:00 AM“White Sox Classics: White Sox vs. Houston (from August 10) – The future most certainly looked bright on the southside in this match-up as the White Sox defeated the eventual World Series champs, thanks in part to some 9th/extra-inning heroics from team’s highly-touted future cornerstone, Yoan Moncada.

12:30 PM“Cubs Classics: Cubs at Milwaukee (from September 21) – In one of their most exciting victories of the season, the Cubs were down 3-2 in the top of the ninth (not to mention being down to their last strike), but second baseman Javy Baez came through with a clutch RBI single to force extra innings, which was then followed by reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant crushing the Brew Crew’s hopes for division contention with a two-run blast in the 10th.

4:30 PM“White Sox Classics: White Sox at Detroit (from September 14) – The bats were indeed alive as the White Sox belted out 25 hits (a White Sox personal best total since 1981) featuring some impressive firepower courtesy of its top three stars: Avisail Garcia (5-5, HR, 7 RBI), Yoan Moncada (4-5, HR), and Jose Abreu (4-5, 2 RBI).

8:00 PM“Cubs Classics: Cubs at St. Louis (from September 27) – The Cubs clinched their second-straight NL Central Division title with all five of their runs coming in the 7th inning, which included shortstop Addison Russell’s GW three-run shot.  NOTE: Immediately following this “Cubs Classics” game (approx. 10:55 PM), fans can look forward to a replay of “Cubs Postgame Live” that featured the team’s NL Central Division-clinching locker room celebration.

REMINDER: NBC Sports Chicago/ Sports app will carry live coverage of all eight Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Football State Championship games this weekend (all in HD) beginning with the Class 1A title game Friday morning (Nov. 24) at 10:00 AM and all the way through to the Class 8A battle between area preps powerhouses Lincoln-Way East (13-0) vs. Loyola Academy (12-1) on Saturday night (Nov. 25) at 7:00 PM on NBC Sports Chicago+.  Fans are urged to visit for full coverage and precise channel location/live streaming details.