Cubs' Hoerner spent his time in South Bend glued to Marquee
In a normal year, a player that doesn't make the major-league club would start the season in Triple A.
That's not the case this year when the minor league seasons were delayed to keep the numbers down at training camp. So when Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner was sent down, he went to the South Bend alternate site, a different kind of experience.
"I spent a lot of time watching Cubs baseball," Hoerner said before Saturday's game. "Definitely like to keep up with just how all the guys are doing. It's different when you actually watch a game live instead of highlights.
"I like watching my friends play and watching people's at-bats. I feel like it's nice to know kind of the ebbs and flows of the season. Like, Ian Happ has had great at-bats. I know that's been covered, but I like to know he's having awesome at-bats and he's barreling a bunch of balls and it feels like I'm more a part of the day-to-day when I'm able to watch everything like that. Stepping in here now I have a better feel for what the season has been like."
Hoerner said it was nice to have some veterans with him in South Bend, like Cameron Maybin, the Romine brothers and catcher Jose Loboton. And they also got to play several games against players from the White Sox alternate site and some other nearby teams.
"I think the most difficult part at first was that we weren't playing other teams right away because I felt I was at the top of my game, ready for the season," Hoerner said. "And then you go back to live at-bats and more of a practice setting. So mentally how do you make that as gamelike as possible and continue the positivity of what happened in the spring."
Before Saturday's game, the Cubs brought starting pitcher Adbert Alzolay back from the South Bend alternate site and sent reliever Kyle Ryan back down. Ryan made his season debut in Friday's game. ... Chicago native Corey Ray made his MLB debut Saturday for the Brewers. He went up to pinch-hit in the fifth inning and drew a walk, then stayed in the game. Ray played in high school at Simeon and then at Louisville.