This isn't a video game anymore.
That 94 mph fastball from Clayton Kershaw is as real as it gets for Addison Russell.
The day after Kris Bryant was talking about facing pitchers who used to be on his Fantasy Baseball teams, the other high-profile Cubs rookie was discussing how he used to play with Kershaw and Zack Greinke on PlayStation in high school (which was only three years ago for Russell).
Now, he's facing them in person on back-to-back nights.
"It's pretty cool," Russell said. "Everyone knows [Kershaw] is a great pitcher. It's just kinda surreal being able to face him."
Regardless of who he's facing nowadays, Russell is looking like a big-leaguer. He no longer appears to be the wide-eyed rookie just happy to be here.
More than anything, he's been patient at the plate, with eight of his 16 walks coming in June, a month in which he has posted a .366 on-base percentage entering play Tuesday.
In fact, in his last 23 games dating back to May 26, Russell is hitting .286 with a .368 OBP and .796 OPS.
"I think there's some development in there," Russell said of the consistency he's found at the plate. "It's also some of my approach. I'm seeing a lot more pitches, I'm taking my walks and it's working out."
Russell credits that approach with the results that are showing on the stat sheet. Part of the reason he found his name among the Top 5 prospects in the game is his advanced approach at such a young age.
"I'm just getting back to my approach," he said. "When I first came up here, it was just, 'I gotta get a hit. I gotta get a hit.' But now, I'm taking my time.
"I'm having a lot of patience at the plate and I'm letting my approach take care of itself."
Joe Maddon has noticed. With the Cubs' usual leadoff man Dexter Fowler currently sidelined with a minor ankle injury, the question was posed to Maddon about the possibility of having Russell lead off for a game or two, instead of hitting in his typical No. 9 spot.
"I think Addison's doing really, really well where he's hitting right now," Maddon said. "... Addison's development is so important to me and to us. I'm not saying that he can't [lead off] - I'm not saying that at all. But I don't know what it would do to his comfort zone.
"Right now, his on-base percentage is getting to a really respectable area as his batting average continues to climb. You've seen him work better at-bats. He's taken those borderline pitches and not chasing as much.
"I just like what he's doing. I don't want to mess with him or his development."
Russell got another great moment for his development Tuesday night when he came up to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out in a 0-0 tie in the bottom of the 10th inning. Russell was up against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen - one of the nastiest relievers in the game - and fouled off pitch after pitch before grounding a ball toward first base on the eighth pitch. Adrian Gonzalez bobbled the ball at first, so the Dodgers were only able to get one out (the force at home), setting the table for Chris Denorfia's walk-off one batter later.
After the game, Maddon made a special point to discuss Russell's at-bat in the 10th and the type of effect it can have on the rookie in the future.
"I loved Addison's at-bat," Maddon said. "I thought it was a great learning experience for Addison."
At 21, Russell is one of the youngest players in all of baseball. Amid a sort of rookie awakening around the game, Russell has said he does not compare himself to fellow first-year players and just tries to go out and play his game.
He plays aggressive, making leaping and diving catches all over the outfield grass, manning the second base position like a free safety.
Russell - a natural shortstop - also says he's actually more comfortable at second base now, but took some ground balls at shortstop before Tuesday's game just to stay fresh over there, too.
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He insists the position change wasn't a factor for his initial offensive struggles.
"I kinda like to keep those two things separate," Russell said. "If I struggle at the plate, I can always rely on mmy defense. It's whenever both things aren't going your way, which is what happened to me pretty early on.
"You just have to get back to the fact that you're here for a reason. You've worked your butt off so far. Just believe in yourself.
"That's the biggest thing - just trusting myself and my ability."