Cubs’ David Ross ‘mixing up’ lineup, tries Nico Hoerner at leadoff

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Maddie Lee
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Ross ‘mixing up’ lineup, tries Nico Hoerner at leadoff originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

For the first time this season, and second time in his major-league career, Nico Hoerner is leading off for the Cubs on Monday.

“Nico’s swinging the hot bat,” Cubs manager David Ross said before the game at Atlanta. “Just mixing it up a hair at the top. Nothing earth shattering, other than Nico's playing really good baseball right now and having some of our better at-bats. So, let's get him at the top and see what happens.”

With Javy Báez out due to hamstring tightness, Hoerner is starting at shortstop against the Braves. Ross said he expects Báez will be available off the bench.

Asked if he’d stick with Horner hitting leadoff past Monday, Ross said he’d continue to evaluate matchups day to day. Right-hander Charlie Morton takes the mound for the Braves on Monday

“This was, without Javy in there, seeing what we could do with the lineup and mix and match some things where some of the data on Morton may make some sense for that,” Ross said.

Cubs center fielder Ian Happ, who has been the Cubs’ leadoff hitter since midway through last season, is penciled in hitting fifth.

Happ leads the team in walks this season (15), but his batting average has dipped to .154 entering play Monday.

“You’ve got to trust the process and trust the baseball gods,” Happ said last week, citing his promising expected statistics. “And it's a long season, they're going to be good to me at some point.”

Hoerner, on the other hand, is 4-for-9 at the plate with three doubles. The Cubs recalled him from the South Bend alternate site last Thursday when they placed left fielder Joc Pederson (left wrist tendonitis) on the 10-day injured list.

Hoerner was a surprise cut from the big-league roster at the end of spring training. David Bote claimed the everyday role at second base, and Ross said for the sake of Hoerner’s development, he didn’t want the 23-year-old getting “sporadic” at-bats in a bench role.

“I see more of a business side,” Ross said when asked if Hoerner looks different to him this year. “Maybe that's because I pissed him off and sent him down from spring. But I see a guy that’s here to prove – whether it's to me, or the organization, or whoever – that he's an everyday big-league player.”

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