Hometown hero Mike Tauchman making the most of his opportunity with Cubs

4 months agoTony Andracki

With all the additions to the lineup this winter, who would’ve predicted that it would be Mike Tauchman to play hero over and over for the Cubs against baseball’s best team during a late-May series?

The entire Cubs fanbase has undoubtedly heard by now that Tauchman is a Chicagoland native, hailing from Palatine, Ill., about a half hour northwest of Wrigley Field.

He had a strong Spring Training but didn’t start the year on the big-league roster. It didn’t draw much attention when the Cubs inked Tauchman to a minor-league deal over the winter but he’s certainly not flying under the radar anymore.

The 32-year-old outfielder drove in the game’s only run in Monday’s win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

On Tuesday, he drove in the winning run with a 2-out single off AL Cy Young contender Shane McClanahan.

And then on Wednesday, he gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning with another 2-out RBI knock.

Not even an off-day could halt his hot stretch. On Friday in San Diego, Tauchman drew a pair of walks to run his season on-base percentage to a whopping .477. He is also hitting .333 and now has more walks (9) than strikeouts (8).

He also made a clutch sliding catch in center field to rob Jake Cronenworth of extra bases in the 5th inning:

While Cody Bellinger works his way back from a knee injury, Tauchman has been drawing everyday starts in center field.

“It’s a calm at-bat, willing to take his walks,” David Ross said of Tauchman after Tuesday’s game against the Rays. “The lefties aren’t overmatching him. He’s able to control the zone. The poise — he knows what he does well.

“Mike’s a guy that’s been around in big moments, big markets. I think he sticks to what he does well and doesn’t get outside of that. He’s also a guy that will attack his pitch early on in the count if he gets it where he wants it. I thought he’s done a nice job of that and really played well for us.”

Tauchman’s plan is to keep things simple at the plate and doesn’t try to do too much. That was especially true against McClanahan when he inside-outted a 98 mph fastball into left field for the go-ahead RBI Tuesday night:


It’s been an up-and-down road for Tauchman. He broke onto the scene with a big 2019 campaign for the Yankees, when he put up a .277/.361/.504 slash line (.865 OPS) with 13 homers and 47 RBI in 87 games.

He struggled in New York the next 2 seasons and was shipped to San Francisco midway through 2021. He spent last year playing in Korea before returning to the U.S. and receiving an opportunity with his hometown team.

The Cubs have had interest in Tauchman for a while. He spends his offseason working out at the Chicagoland facility of Justin Stone, the Cubs director of hitting.

As he donned the Cubs pinstripes and made his Wrigley Field debut last week, Tauchman couldn’t help but think about where he’d come from. He looked out into the bleachers and thought about all the times he sat there watching big leaguers patrol the outfield.

His wife and parents cheered him on from the stands during the first game of the homestand, when Tauchman doubled in the 5th inning as the Cubs beat the Mets.

“It’s been special,” he said. “It’s meant a lot to some people in my family. Getting to share that experience has been cool.

“It’s hard not to think about the journey sometimes — the good and the bad. You think about it for a second and I’m sure at some point, I’ll process it a little bit more. But right now, my focus is just on today and helping us win.”

Bellinger is on the road to recovery but even when he returns, Tauchman may have played well enough to earn a spot as a backup outfielder on this Cubs roster.

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