We didn't know it at the time, but David Bote trotting in to replace an injured Kris Bryant in Colorado was an interesting bit of foreshadowing.
When Bryant took a 96mph fastball to the helmet in that April 22 game against the Rockies, that could've defined the season for the Cubs.
Instead, Bryant's season-defining moment came a month later.
He only missed a few games after the pitch to the head, came back and continued to rake for a month before injuring his left shoulder.
Two months later, that shoulder is still bothering Bryant and with their MVP on the disabled list for the second time in a matter of weeks, the Cubs have turned to Bote, the 25-year-old with 20 career MLB games under his belt.
That's not to say the Cubs' World Series hopes ride on Bote or anything like that. But with Bryant a serious question mark over the final two months of the regular season and into the playoffs, Bote has transformed from maybe the Cubs' best trade asset to an integral part of the big-league roster.
Bote flashed his value immediately, getting called up Thursday when Bryant hit the DL, starting at second base and making a diving stop that saved a pair of runs for his team:
He also singled in his second at-bat and scored a run as the Cubs attempted to mount a comeback.
And, of course, there was the game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth on an 0-2 pitch:
David Bote ties it up and Anthony Rizzo WALKS. IT. OFF! pic.twitter.com/0ZF29lXCbu— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) July 26, 2018
What a moment for the rookie, who said he was forced out of the dugout by Javy Baez and Ian Happ for a curtain call the 38,979 fans in attendance demanded.
"He's very important to us right now, I agree," Joe Maddon said. "Listen, we liked him in spring training. I saw him briefly the last couple years — maybe like in a game or two, he came on over. 'David Bote is a good guy' — I'm hearing all this stuff. But then all of a sudden, he starts putting balls in the left-centerfield gaps and over walls.
"That home run he hit here [July 4] in dead center, that was one of the hardest-hit homers all year, I thought. But his defense at third base and his baserunning, those have really been attractive. If you think about the games he's played so far, think about all the really good baserunning maneuvers.
"For me, he's got a major-league kind of a makeup. Not too fast. He has not been overwhelmed to this point. For all those different reasons, he fits really well."
Bote won't be playing every single day in Bryant's absence, but he gives the Cubs necessary depth on the infield. He can play third base or he can move to second base and allow Javy Baez to move over to the hot corner and either way, the infield defense is still very good.
He also represents a right-handed option for Maddon's lineups against left-handed starting pitchers (which they badly needed Tuesday night against Robbie Ray).
At the very least, Bote can be a late-game pinch-runner, pinch-hitter or defensive replacement as part of a double switch. His versatility meshes perfectly with the rest of the big-league club.
With the trade deadline coming up fast (next Tuesday), Bote's name was being thrown out as potentially the Cubs' best asset to give away in exchange for pitching depth. This farm system doesn't have the elite options like Gleyber Torres or Eloy Jimenez anymore and the guys that started the year as the organization's top pitching prospects are dealing with injuries or ineffectiveness.
Bote said he tries to stay off social media as much as possible to avoid any potential rumors and joked no other friends or family members tell him what they see because "they know better."
"I don't know what's out there or who wants me or this or that,:" he said. "My approach every day is to be the best David Bote ballplayer I can."
After coming into the year as a relative unknown in the baseball world and absent from any lists of Cubs top prospects, Bote's value has skyrocketed over the last few months. The Cubs love his makeup.
"I think he's really valuable," Maddon said. "He's a good baseball player. He swings the bat well. When he first got up here, I was made aware that he's better at second base than third base defensively, but I've seen great things — really good third base play.
"He's improved there. He's out there with [Cubs infield coach Brian Butterfield] all the time and I'm sure it was the same thing back in Triple-A. Great baserunner, gives you a good at-bat, plays the game hard, man.
"He just does everything right. I think for the group that was not on him industry-wide before coming to the big leagues is on him now and that's why you're probably seeing his name mentioned more prominently based on what he's done here."
However, that was all before Bryant's shoulder started acting up.
Bote is an 18th round draft pick of the Cubs from 2012 and had a unique perspective on the rise of the organzation from "Lovable Losers" to World Series champs.
Now he has an opportunity to help put the team that drafted him into a spot to potentially win a second title in three seasons.