(CBS) Entering Tuesday, outfielder Jason Heyward had batted lead-off for the Cubs three times in the past four games.
While that may have come as a surprise to some, the new role didn’t catch Heyward off guard. After all, it was his suggestion to manager Joe Maddon before the All-Star break that
“I asked for it,” Heyward said in an interview with Matt Spiegel and Danny Parkins on 670 The Score on Tuesday. “I asked for it. I reached Joe and let him know — this was before the All-Star break — I just let him know, ‘Hey, if you need to do something like that, put me at lead-off to make it easier on everybody else and let them feel comfortable — you know, because … I feel like most of the time this year, we’ve had a different guy there, and for one, Jon Jay does a great job when he plays for us as well, but he doesn’t every day — so I just let him know, ‘Hey, if you need somebody who’s going to be out there every day, to be up there and give us some stability in that sense, then don’t be afraid to put me up there. I’m not going to shy away from it.'”
After a disappointing 2016 debut season in Chicago, Heyward has had a stronger campaign. He’s hitting .263 with seven homers, 38 RBI, a .729 OPS and a .319 on-base percentage in 70 games.
The Cubs have used nine lead-off hitters this season. Most recently, Ben Zobrist and Jon Jay have been filling the role in addition to Heyward’s three-game stint there.
“He did it in that series against the Cardinals, and no, I didn’t mind it whatsoever,” Heyward said. “We got a good lineup. I know my approach that I got to have up there at the plate for myself. And if I take care of business and be the best person I feel like I can be, then it doesn’t matter where I hit in the lineup.”
Listen to Heyward’s full interview below.