Ben Zobrist has no intention of going the Shane Victorino route to switch-hitting.
Victorino — who was in Cubs camp last spring — gave up switch-hitting for several years because a back injury made it more difficult to swing from the left side, so he opted to hit only from his natural right-handed side.
Zobrist is also a natural right-handed hitter, but that's actually the side causing him issues right now.
The Cubs veteran is nursing a sore left wrist, which is the dominant hand on a right-handed swing, driving the bat through the zone and engineering the follow-through on the swing.
Because of that sore wrist, Zobrist isn't able to get the necessary reps in for his right-handed swing as he tries to let the injury heal.
That has made him unable to do much from a right-handed perspective, which explains why he tried to bunt several times in the fifth inning Friday when facing Rockies southpaw Chris Rusin with runners on first and third and nobody out. Zobrist wound up grounding into a fielder's choice with Kris Bryant thrown out at home.
Joe Maddon explained the moment after the game:
"[The wrist is] bothering him still a little bit," Maddon said. "But like you saw, he was able to swing. It was just the perfect time for a safety squeeze to move everybody around and had he done that, who knows, it could've been successful with him just being safe or even successful — runner on second base, one out, run in with these other guys coming up.
"So I thought it was a good play to try. It just didn't play out."
Fans discussing the at-bat on Twitter were wondering why Zobrist wouldn't just hit left-handed against a left-handed pitcher if his swing right-handed is an issue.
The 36-year-old said he has never once faced a left-handed pitcher hitting left-handed and it's not something he is comfortable with. He's a natural righty and has actually faced right-handed pitchers in the majors a handful of times as a righty.
Both Zobrist and Maddon recalled a time with the Tampa Bay Rays in September 2008 when he hit right-handed against New York Yankees starter Mike Mussina.
Maddon immediately recalled the game, remembering that the Rays also had switch-hitting outfielder Fernando Perez remain right-handed against Mussina because the veteran pitcher was much tougher on left-handed hitters at that point in time.
Maddon is one of the more open-minded managers in the game, zigging while others are zagging. He would be open to switch-hitters giving that up against different pitchers, but it would have to be the right situation.
"It's the comfort level of the hitter himself," Maddon said. "We did it against Mike Mussina and Shaun Marcum. Neither one threw hard. That's part of it. Mussina and Marcum probably threw like 88-90 mph, so they were more comfortable hitting from the right side vs. a right-handed pitcher even though they weren't used to doing it."
Maddon remembered how Perez got a base-hit to left against Mussina and Zobrist made an out his first time up and wanted to abandon the unconventional strategy and return to switch-hitting. But Maddon convinced Zobrist to stick with it and the next at-bat resulted in a double.
It's just another example of how Zobrist is a classic Maddon guy — always willing to adapt and try something new in an effort to be more verstatile.
"It's just up to the adventurous spirit of the hitter himself and if he's comfortable or not," Maddon said. "But I do believe in that stuff. I see nothing wrong. I do it against knuckleballers a lot. You saw that against [former Red Sox starter Tim] Wakefield — he was better for a while against lefties.
"More recently, [R.A.] Dickey, we had some guys that wanted to hit right-handed against Dickey also. Again, it's based on velocity and movement on the pitch they feel more comfortable being on the same side because the guy's not throwing that hard."
As for Friday specifically, pinch-hitting for Zobrist isn't very realistic given it was so early in a game (fifth inning) in which the Cubs were only down two and Zobrist wound up with two more left-handed at-bats later in the game.
The Cubs also aren't intersted in giving Zobrist extended rest at this time to let the wrist heal, especially as the team continues to work through a rough offensive stretch in which they are struggling to find consistency and production with runners on base.
Zobrist is a steadying presence in the lineup, providing protection behind Bryant and Anthony Rizzo as well as an advanced approach that shows up on a daily basis while a bunch of Cubs young hitters are still developing offensively.