Miles Mastrobuoni beginning to show what he can bring to Cubs
Cody Bellinger is so locked in right now, even the players around him are cashing in on his success at the plate.
Miles Mastrobuoni has been picking Bellinger’s brain lately on his swing and it’s paying off for the Cubs utility infielder.
On Friday, Mastrobuoni collected 2 hits, including his first MLB home run. As he rounded the bases, his smile could be seen from every corner of Wrigley Field.
The blast represented more than just a career milestone. It was a strong dose of validation.
“You definitely want it to come sooner,” Mastrobuoni said. “I’ve wanted it from the start. It just didn’t happen and that’s the way this game goes sometimes. It stinks and you feel like you’re on an island. I just try and stay the course, trust my work, trust coming in every day and just working hard and know that things will change.”
The Cubs acquired Mastrobuoni, 27, from the Tampa Bay Rays in a trade last November. He made his MLB debut last season but appeared in just 8 games.
This year, he cracked the Cubs Opening Day lineup but has spent much of the season shuttling between Chicago and Triple-A Iowa.
When he was optioned to the minors most recently (June 27), Mastrobuoni carried a .145/.254/.177 slash line (.431 OPS) in 72 plate appearances.
But he’s had completely different results at the plate since he was recalled on July 8.
Even with an 0-for-2 performance Saturday, Mastrobuoni is slashing .391/.444/.565 (1.009 OPS) over his last 9 games.
He said the biggest difference right now is simply that he feels more confident than earlier in the season.
“What he’s been doing lately — I think that’s who he thinks he is and I think that’s who we think he is,” David Ross said. “Bottom of the order bat, can play multiple positions, [hit] from the left side, got some power in there.
“He’s been getting some base hits up the middle, staying on balls, doing a really nice job. Happy for him. You saw the smile on his face after that homer. That goes a long way because he’s been grinding.”
Mastrobuoni has always posted good numbers in the minors, painting the picture of a player exactly as Ross described.
In Triple-A with the Rays last season, he hit .300 with an .846 OPS, 16 homers and 23 stolen bases.
In 26 games with Triple-A Iowa this year, Mastrobuoni was hitting .305 with a whopping .477 on-base percentage and a .928 OPS. He is also a perfect 15-for-15 in stolen base attempts between the majors and minors this year.
When he was struggling to begin the season, Mastrobuoni admitted he was probably putting too much pressure on himself to prove his worth to a new team, city and fanbase.
“Maybe that kinda got in a little bit too much at the start,” Mastrobuoni said. “Sometimes when you try a little extra hard, you don’t get the results you want. This place is special and I wanted to come in — I think everybody wants to come in and make a name for themselves and show that you can help this organization win ballgames.”
As Mastrobuoni navigates his first year in Chicago, one thing has stood out to him each game.
“To play in front of this crowd every single day is special,” he said. “I didn’t honestly realize it until I got over here. I won’t take that for granted at all.
“Cubbies nation is special and to be able to go out and play at Wrigley Field, it’s something definitely special.”