Ross calls Happ the Cubs' early-season MVP

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Cubs manager David Ross gave props to left fielder Ian Happ before Wednesday's game.

    Cubs manager David Ross gave props to left fielder Ian Happ before Wednesday's game. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 5/4/2022 7:18 PM

Cubs manager David Ross singled out left fielder Ian Happ for an unofficial honor before Wednesday's series finale against the White Sox.

"Overall, I think the story has been Seiya (Suzuki), but probably the MVP of our group would be Ian Happ for me," Ross said. "One, the defense has improved so much and the way he's playing outfield for us, the way he's moving, the way he's running the bases."

 

Happ was hitting .304 heading into Wednesday's action and ranked third on the team with 11 RBI, behind Suzuki and Patrick Wisdom. While Happ and Suzuki are tied for the team lead with 14 walks, Happ actually has 10 fewer strikeouts (16 to 26).

"I thought from both sides of the plate, obviously, right-handed much improved," Ross said. "The home run off (Atlanta's) Max Fried, going the other way from the right side and his continued patience at the plate from the left side. He's been a real staple to the middle of our lineup and a real big piece for us."

Early in his career, the switch-hitting Happ struggled from the right side. This season, he's hitting .364 as a right-hander and .277 as a lefty, with 1 home run on each side of the plate.

A Happ breakout would be timely if it continues. The Cubs will have to make a long-term decision on their 2019 first-round pick by 2024 when he's eligible for free-agency.

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Minor awards:

The Cubs named a couple of Myrtle Beach Pelicans -- outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong and right-hander Porter Hodge -- their minor league player and pitcher of the month for April, respectively.

Crow-Armstrong, a former first-round pick of the Mets, has been a sensation in Low-A, with a hitting line of .382/.481/.603. Hodge, a 13th-round pick in 2019, has posted a 1.56 ERA in four starts. Hodge, 21, is a Utah native who passed on a University of Utah commitment to sign out of high school. His progress was slowed a bit by the pandemic and back surgery.

Elsewhere in the farm system, the Cubs are getting good results from the players they got from the Giants in the Kris Bryant trade. Outfielder Alexander Canario has been on a tear in South Bend, hitting 6 home runs over eight games this week. Right-handed pitcher Caleb Killian has posted a 1.83 ERA at Triple A Iowa in his first five starts.

Rehab updates:

Veteran pitcher Wade Miley (left elbow inflammation) will start a rehab assignment in Iowa on Thursday. ... Alec Mills has started throwing again, but it has yet to be determined when he'll resume a rehab assignment, Mills tossed 3 innings for Iowa on April 23, but experienced right quad tightness a few days later. The issue that originally put him on the injured list was a back strain. ... The Cubs starter on Friday against the Dodgers is TBD. It could be Drew Smyly if he's back from the bereavement list.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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