Madrigal arrives at Wrigley hoping to represent brighter Cubs' future

Of the 12 players acquired by the Cubs in various July trades, only two were actual major-leaguers.

So when Nick Madrigal first met Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer, the setting was an Arizona rookie league game. They sat in the stands in Mesa, while Hoyer pointed out how some of the teenagers on the field represented a brighter Cubs future.

“He welcomed me to the team, said he was excited to have me, my style of play,” Madrigal said Saturday while sitting in the Cubs dugout. “We talked about some of the guys that were on the field and just how much talent is in the organization overall. There's definitely some upside in the future for these young guys coming up and it's definitely exciting to be in this uniform.”

Madrigal, the former White Sox second baseman, is out for the season with a torn hamstring. He stopped by this week to meet some of his new teammates at Wrigley Field.

Madrigal also watched the Cubs lose to San Francisco for the second straight day, this time by the lopsided score of 15-4. On the second leg of his reunion tour, Kris Bryant went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.

“I've been busy over in Arizona just rehabbing and getting to know the guys over there,” Madrigal said. “I was fortunate to make this trip. I know it's late in the season, but it does a lot for me to get in the clubhouse and see the field and the guys. It just helps to be in uniform. It feels a little bit more real now. So I'm really enjoying this weekend.”

Madrigal and reliever Codi Heuer moved from South Side to North in the trade for Craig Kimbrel on July 30. The Cubs have been pushing a more contact-oriented approach at the plate and Madrigal was known as “Nicky Two Strikes” on the Sox for his rare ability to hit .300 with a two-strike count.

Whether he'll hit high in the order with the Cubs, low in the order, team up with long-time rival Nico Hoerner in the middle infield — all that remains to be seen. At the moment, Madrigal is making sure he gets healthy. He said doctors just cleared him to do some jogging and he expects to resume baseball activities in November.

Madrigal played his last game for the White Sox on June 9 and did mention some regrets about his injury status.

“To be honest, I was playing on it for a couple weeks leading up to the injury,” he said. “I had a tough time, I was really thinking about whether I should take myself out or keep playing. I felt like I was playing pretty well at the time. I've never been someone ... if I'm able to run out there and be OK, I'm not going to take myself out.

“But big picture, I think maybe I should have taken a couple days. But I understand it's in the past and everything kind of happens for a reason and once it happened, I felt it wasn't good. It happened, I'm moving forward now and big picture, I probably learned a couple things from that.”

If Madrigal stayed healthy, who knows what would have happened. Maybe he'd still be there, getting ready for the playoffs. But being on the injured list, after the White Sox added Cesar Hernandez as a replacement, probably made Madrigal more expendable.

“I wouldn't say it stings at all,” he said. “I understand it's part of the whole business of the game. It's almost very rare nowadays that a player stick with one team his whole career. I wouldn't say it stings at all. I'm happy for those guys. I grew up through the system with those guys. I'm rooting for them. I have a lot of great friends over there. I would say that's how I'm feeling.”

Madrigal admitted the trade caught him by surprise. He was in Arizona rehabbing and found out when White Sox general manager Rick Hahn called with the news.

Not that Madrigal was hesitant about joining the Cubs, but he did get glowing reviews from Heuer, who has been pitching well since joining the team.

“I've been texting back and forth with him the last couple weeks and he said nothing but great things about this place,” Madrigal said. “He was saying it feels like one of the happiest places ever to play. It's just, everyone's in a great mood, the fans, the atmosphere. That's something that really stuck with me.”

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