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How Cubs envision Jared Young fitting into the roster puzzle

12 months agoAndy Martinez

Jared Young didn’t hold a grudge or take it too personally.

A 2017 15th round pick, Young worked his way up the Cubs’ system, making his major-league debut last season. But, in November, the Cubs designated Young for assignment. Instead of being bitter, Young just got back on the saddle, fine-tuning his craft.

“It’s part of the game and when stuff like that happens, you go back to work,” Young said Tuesday in the Cubs’ clubhouse.

His effort and performances at Triple-A Iowa led him back to the Cubs — he was selected by the team prior to Tuesday’s series opener against the Phillies. To make room on the 40-man roster, Brandon Hughes was transferred to the 60-day IL and to accommodate him on the active roster, Miles Mastrobuoni was optioned to Iowa.

“I kinda looked at it as another opportunity to get back here,” Young said. “Things have worked out that way and I’m excited to be here.”

Young had been on the Cubs’ radar for a while — it was hard not to be when you’re dominating Triple-A. In 52 games, the lefty was hitting .326/.426/.605/154 wRC+ with 13 home runs and 45 RBI. He really thrived against right-handed pitching — hitting .349/.461/.689 with 12 home runs.

“I’m feeling pretty comfortable at the plate right now,” Young said. “If you take the confidence of everything that’s happened the last few weeks and couple months and bring it here, I don’t think things are gonna change.”

The Cubs rank 16th in OPS against right-handed pitching this season, so they are hoping that Young’s success in that department can provide a boon to their lineup.

“Been swinging the bat really well, mashing right-handed pitching,” manager David Ross said. “So, he’ll be a guy pinch hit off the bench, play some first, some outfield where it matches up a little bit.”

The Cubs will continue to use Cody Bellinger at first base with Trey Mancini as a platoon option there, too. Mancini struggled in the finale in London — his error in the 2nd inning would have ended the frame but instead extended it and the Cardinals scored 3 total runs in the inning. After the game, Mancini took ownership for the error.

On Tuesday, Ross opted to keep Bellinger at first against a lefty starter in Ranger Suárez and use Mancini as the DH.

“He’ll be back at first really soon,” Ross said. “I wanted to give him a little bit of a mental break.”

As Bellinger’s knee continues to return to full health following his left knee contusion, the Cubs could opt to use Bellinger in center when he’s recovered and deemed ready to play there and use Young at first if the matchup makes sense. If the Cubs want a lefty bat and want to give Seiya Suzuki or Ian Happ a day off, Young could play in the outfield, too.

“Whatever the skipper wants. When I met with him right when I showed up, I said, ‘I’m here to play. Here to help the team win. Whatever you need from me is what I’m gonna be here to do,’” Young said. “Just ready for the opportunity.”

In optioning Mastrobuoni, the Cubs are hopeful that some consistent playing time and at-bats can help him find his groove. He has 72 plate appearances across 29 games this season and is hitting just .145/.254/.177 with 2 extra-base hits.

Hughes will undergo season-ending surgery on his knee, the team announced in London

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