(CBS) Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward is already well into his work on overhauling his swing after a disappointing 2016 season at the plate.
Heyward has moved to Arizona to work with Cubs assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske on a regular basis this offseason, general manager Jed Hoyer said in an interview on the Spiegel and Goff Show on Friday. Hitting coach John Mallee has also been flying down to Arizona to work with Heyward at times too.
“All the video I’ve seen so far and all the reports from Jason are really good,” Hoyer said. “I think you need to get to the offseason to make some critical changes. For people that don’t understand that, it’s so hard to tweak something in the batting cage before the game. It’s easy when balls are coming at you, it’s straight, it’s shooting 70 miles an hour. And then when you’re in a game in front of 35,000 people and a guy’s throwing 94 miles an hour, it’s hard to make those changes. The muscle memory is not quite there. Ultimately, you’re going to fall back on what you know. You’re just going to try to compete.”
The prize of the Cubs’ offseason a year ago when he signed an eight-year, $184-million deal that brought with it high expectations and plenty of scrutiny, Heyward hit .230 with seven homers, 49 RBIs, a .306 on-base percentage and .631 OPS in 142 games. Each of those statistics marked a career-worst for the 27-year-old Heyward.
“He was excited to get to the offseason and be able to make those changes,” Hoyer said. “I love the fact that he moved to Arizona. Right now, most guys aren’t aggressively hitting at this stage of the offseason. He’s really excited to do it. I think it says a lot about him. I know he was frustrated with his offense during this year. He’s working hard with Eric to make those changes now.
“All he has to do is get back to the seasons he’s had as a big leaguer. He doesn’t have to become something he hasn’t already been.
“In this situation, it’s simply a matter of getting his mechanics right.”