Michael Busch homers for Chicago Cubs against former team

CHICAGO (AP) — Michael Busch engaged in some friendly banter with some of his former teammates before the Chicago Cubs kicked off their series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Then he really had some fun.

Busch hit his first homer with Chicago and made a terrific defensive play for the final out of the Cubs' 9-7 victory over the Dodgers on Friday. He was acquired in a January trade with Los Angeles.

“I think Michael's going to be just a kind of consistent presence. I think that's what he is right now,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said. “And then just trying to stack at-bats for him in this league, and as he does that, I think his offense ... as you get comfortable with what the league can do, he's just going to get better and better.”

Busch walked and scored Chicago's second run in its five-run second inning. He batted again in the third and hit a drive into the basket in right for his third career homer.

“For a second, I thought it wasn't going to get out there,” Busch said. “Just happy to get one on the board.”

Los Angeles had runners on second and third with two out in the ninth when Busch snared James Outman’s liner to first with a diving catch.

“He made a good defensive play at the end,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I'm always rooting for him. Maybe hurt us a little bit today, but I'm always wishing the best for him.”

Busch, 26, was selected by Los Angeles in the first round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of North Carolina. He was the Pacific Coast League MVP in 2023, batting .323 with 27 homers and 90 RBIs in 98 games for Triple-A Oklahoma City.

He also made his major league debut with the Dodgers last year, but the infielder hit just .167 in 27 games for the NL West champions.

Unable to find a regular playing spot on the loaded Dodgers, he was shipped off to Chicago along with reliever Yency Almonte for two prospects.

“I think the organization itself, coming up through it, just had great people. Nothing but good things. Worked hard,” said Busch, who is batting .316 with two RBIs in his first seven games with Chicago.

“I was saying a little earlier, you can put in as much work as you can, but you have to have people around you that, behind the scenes, (hit) ground balls, putting in the work on video and stuff like that. Coaches and players that came up with me, they were awesome. Very thankful for it, for sure.”