Ask Joe Maddon about Addison Russell and an uncontrollable smile creeps along his face.
Ask Joe Maddon about Addison Russell's potential and his eyes get a sort of glossy look in them.
The Cubs manager gushes about nearly all his players, but he speaks about Russell a bit differently.
Maddon is a wordsmith, but even he has to be running out of different ways to talk about the 22-year-old shortstop.
After an infield single in the Cubs' loss to the Pirates Sunday, Russell is now working on a nine-game hitting streak.
He has 13 RBI in those nine games and drove in nine runs in his last four starts before Sunday. Russell is on pace for 122 RBI and 86 walks.
Look up any "clutch" stat and Russell is excelling in that category. So what makes him so different?
"Just a slow heart beat," Maddon said. "If you talk to the kid anytime, he's always suavecito. There's nothing really hurried about him. He's just got a great way about him.
"Again, he's gonna keep getting better. Everybody's liking when he's doing good. I'm here to tell you: He's gonna get better."
Maddon pointed to Friday's game when Russell moved past a bad swing-and-miss at a pitch out of the zone to deliver the crucial blow to the Pirates - a three-run homer off Francisco Liriano.
Russell followed that up with a two-run shot into the teeth of the wind Saturday.
The Pirates outfielders took a combined one step on the two homers - no doubters.
That power potential is something Maddon has been talking up since spring training, continually pointing to Russell's strong hands and youth (players don't typically hit their power peak until 26-27 years of age).
Russell said he feels more confident this year at the plate and is working to get pitches he can drive and do some damage with.
That calm demeanor - that "slow heart beat" - is not anything new to the second-year rising star.
"It's been that way my whole life," Russell said. "It doesn't mean that I don't get nervous or anything like that. It's just I don't show a lot of emotion out there."
Russell is comfortable in that skin and is developing a reputation as a "clutch" player 174 games into his big-league career.
"I think that's his personality," veteran second baseman Ben Zobrist said. "He's very calm. He's very focused and I think when he gets up to the dish, I say he's got ice in his veins.
"He's not getting too hyped up there. He's ready to do the job and have a good, quality at-bat. He's just gonna continue to get better. Any struggles that he has, even at this time, it's just because he's young. He's just gotta get that experience."
While most players - especially young guys in their sophomore season in "The Show" - tighten up in high-pressure spots, Zobrist has watched Russell play without fear, whether it's with two strikes, two outs or the game on the line.
Maddon mentioned Russell's approach unprovoked two separate times throughout the weekend, talking about the shortstop's pregame routine when he's a self-described "loner."
"He's got great aptitude and he's a great listener," Maddon said. "Those are two wonderful qualities to have as a young person trying to get better in your profession."
Count Cubs ace Jake Arrieta among those at the forefront of the Addison Russell Fan Club thanks to his defense, which included a diving snare of a line drive in Sunday's game.
"I'm always impressed with Addison," Arrieta said. "Whether he's hitting .320 or not, his defense shows up every day. He's capable of some pretty special things when he's on the field.
"He's swinging the bat really well. A couple big home runs. It's just a matter of time before he really comes into his own at the plate. We've seen it in spurts. He's such a young player and to see the promise already from him is pretty incredible."
If you ever wanted to know Russell's ridiculous potential, just look at how Cubs players and coaches constantly talk about how much more is left in the tank.
This about a guy who has an OPS over 1.000 through the first 15 days of May.
"The sky is the limit for that guy," Zobrist said. "He's an incredible athlete. He's strong, he's quick. He's got all the tools to be a fantastic player.
"He's already making those adjustments. It's because he thinks along with the game. He's not just assuming it's gonna happen. He's making the adjustments and he's working hard.
"It really irks him when he's not playing the way he's capable of. He's got all the intangibles that you have to have on top of the physcial aspect. He's just gonna get better."