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Cody Bellinger is starting to find his groove with Cubs

2 months agoAndy Martinez

You only have one shot at a first impression.

Cody Bellinger — inadvertently or not — wanted to make it a lasting one for his new team and fans.

But it caused him to break out of the groove he was starting to settle into as Spring Training wound down. Bellinger began his Cubs’ career going 0-for-11 with a walk and 4 strikeouts in his first 3 games at Wrigley Field.

“I think the first few games I had to catch myself,” Bellinger said. “Just taking a breath. I was full of adrenaline and excitement, and I was feeling good, but I wasn’t able to relax as much as I could have. It definitely got to that point.”

A change of scenery can go a long way.

Away from Wrigley Field and in a road environment, Bellinger rediscovered his groove in Cincinnati, hitting a 3-run home run in the first game of the series and following it up with a 3-hit game in the Cubs’ 12-5 win against the Reds.

“I think he just was in a better place in Cincy of just like, ‘OK, I was a little jumpy early on,’” David Ross said. “And facing [Brandon] Woodruff and [Corbin] Burnes in that kind of weather is never fun for anybody, I don’t care how good of a hitter you are. I think it just says the confidence he has in himself, being able to get back and not just spiral down and get back to the things that he’s worked on in the offseason.”

Friday against Texas, Bellinger continued that success — and picked up his first knock as a Cub at Wrigley Field — as he drove in the winning run in the Cubs’ 2-0 victory. Since he started 0-for-11, Bellinger has gone 5-for-12 (.417) with a home run and 5 RBI in his last 3 games.

He was a bit unlucky on Friday, too.

In the 2nd inning, Bellinger laced a 102.3 mph liner to the gap that right fielder Robbie Grossman flagged down to prevent the lefty slugger from picking up a leadoff knock. The ball had a .420 expected batting average.

With Dansby Swanson at second and two outs in the 4th, Bellinger kept the swing plane similar. He took a 76-mph curveball and hit it on a line to the second base hole to drive in Swanson and give the Cubs the lead. It’s a play that could’ve been an out just seven months ago with the shift.

“That ball most likely is a groundball that’s a routine play and thrown to first base,” Bellinger said. “It’s nice to see hits that have always been hits, hits again.”

The Cubs hope Bellinger can now continue that good run. He won’t hit .417 for the rest of the year — there’ll be lulls and boons throughout the season. But the a best case scenario is that when the season is over, Bellinger will have returned to some semblance of the elite slugger he was in the early part of his career.

Mentally, he’s in a good place to do that, too.

“I feel really good,” Bellinger said. “Day in and day out, off day, no off day, consecutive games, I feel really good. Really excited.”

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