Shifting defenses helped Hoerner prepare for new assignments

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Cubs' David Bote celebrates his solo home run with Nico Hoerner (2) Monday. Hoerner has gotten starts at second and third base in recent days. He talked Tuesday about how playing new positions isn't a big change in the era of shifting defense.

    Cubs' David Bote celebrates his solo home run with Nico Hoerner (2) Monday. Hoerner has gotten starts at second and third base in recent days. He talked Tuesday about how playing new positions isn't a big change in the era of shifting defense. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/25/2020 7:49 PM

Nico Hoerner was not in Tuesday's starting lineup, but the rookie has recently gotten starts at third base filling in for the injured Kris Bryant, and shortstop when Javy Baez gets a day off.

But he said straying from his usual spot at second base has felt like business as usual in today's shift-heavy defense.

 

"Definitely for any kids out there, get used to just taking ground balls on random parts of the field," Hoerner said. "(Monday), I was a lot of different places. (Against) Miguel Cabrera, I was behind second base on a shift, kind of 20 feet in the grass, places I've never really taken ground balls on a baseball field before.

"It's definitely added to the preparation and early work, but it also makes second base a lot more dynamic and interesting a position. When you're in the shift, there's more of a need for arm strength and range. It's kind of playing shortstop on the right side of the infield, which is fun."

Hoerner hadn't played third base since he was a kid, but said his two starts in Bryant's spot were pretty routine.

"The first game I played, there were like seven lefties in the lineup so I basically ended up basically playing shortstop the whole game with the shifts," he said. "That game wasn't really much of a third-base experience. The second game, obviously, the White Sox have a ton of righties. I only got one ball hit to me. I definitely feel good there and I'm glad that Rossy (manager David Ross) trusts me in that spot."

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