Opportunity came knocking at Nico Hoerner’s door this week.
He responded by knocking three hits against the Brewers in Friday’s 15-2 Cubs win.
“Nico had a great game,” manager David Ross said.
The Cubs called up Hoerner from the South Bend alternate site on Thursday and it took the 23-year-old all of one start to make a big impact. Friday’s three-hit performance included two doubles, a single, a walk and an RBI.
Hoerner was a late cut from big league camp this spring, optioned to Triple-A to get regular playing time that wasn’t available after David Bote won the starting second base job.
But things changed this week after Joc Pederson hit the injured list with a left wrist injury.
“When you have someone go down, you call up your next best player,” Ross said pregame Friday. “Nico gives us a lot of versatility for starts and coming off the bench.
“With a short bench that we have, and with one of the one of the stars down, our next best player is Nico."
That versatility was on full display Friday. Hoerner started at second base and turned an impressive double play with Javy Báez. In the sixth inning, he shifted to left field, where he previously only had one career appearance.
Hoerner's defensive prowess earned him a Gold Glove Award nomination in 2020, but his bat lagged behind. He came to camp this spring with a modified stance, allowing him to be more free at the plate.
"He's a little more open this year, which has got his hands in a good place," Ross said. "When he loads, he’s in a nice place to fire and still be able to pull the ball as well as back the ball up and drive it to right-center."
Hoerner doubled down the left field line in the first inning and to right-center in the eighth.
The Cubs aren’t putting a timeline on Hoerner’s current stint in the big leagues — which opens the possibility he creates his own through his on-field play. Whether he’s up for the short-term or an extended stay, his teammates are thrilled he’s back.
“He works so hard,” Kyle Hendricks said. “He’s ready for this level. To see him come up and have success right away like he’s done, he deserves it all.”
Said Anthony Rizzo “It’s really, really easy to root for Nico Hoerner.
“I’m happy he’s back and hopefully he’s here to stay.”
If he keeps hitting like Friday, it'll be hard to send him back down.