Cubs' slumps torpedoed the early emphasis on situational hitting
At the start of the season, Cubs manager David Ross talked about how situational hitting was a focus in the spring. The idea was for the Cubs to move runners along and gets guys in from third base with less than two out.
That plan went well in the first series, but seemed to fall by the wayside when every player on the team began the year in a slump.
"I encourage these guys to have the same at-bat they would with nobody on," Ross said before Tuesday's game. "You can cut down, you can try to shorten your stroke. Some guys can do that, some guys aren't very good at doing that.
"I don't think most baseball players can go up there and try to do less and have success. You've got to continue to have your same at-bat. You've still got to swing hard.
"It's a difficult task. I think we did a really good job of it early on, getting some guys who hit the ball in the air in those moments. A couple times we haven't gotten in. I think that's just the overall struggles of the offense that we were going through."
The conversation turned to shortstop Javy Baez, who has struck out more than 50 percent of the time this season, 30 times in 59 at-bats after whiffing in his first three plate appearances Tuesday. Situational hitting requires making contact.
"I think Javy is the best version of himself when he's turned loose and able to play freely," Ross said. "Asking Javy to cut down his swing, put the ball in play, I don't know that that's going to be the best version of him.
"If you're a power guy and strikeouts are part of who you are, then those are going to come if there's a guy on third or the bases or loaded or nobody's on. It's just going to happen."