Cubs News

Narciso Crook represents the latest Cubs player to receive an opportunity in Chicago

5 months agoTony Andracki

When Narciso Crook took the field for the Cubs Thursday night, he became the 48th different player to suit up in the white and blue this season.

Last year, the Cubs set a Major League Baseball record by using 69 different players throughout the season and the 2022 squad is on pace to challenge that mark.

This is where the Cubs are this season — it’s all about opportunity.

Crook will turn 27 on July 12 and the right-handed-hitting outfielder is looking to make the most of his first chance in “The Show.” The Cubs selected his contract Thursday afternoon, placing Jason Heyward on the 10-day IL with a knee injury. (Michael Hermosillo was moved to the 60-day IL to make room for Crook on the 40-man roster.)

He certainly made an impact in his debut Thursday. Crook was subbed in for Rafael Ortega during the 5th inning and swung at the first pitch. The end result was a double play but he hit the ball 100.2 mph and he was pumped just to be able to debut.

“He hit that ball so hard, runs through the bag and you saw him like skipping,” David Ross said. “He was so excited after getting out. It was one of those, get that adrenaline, get that first one out of the way. That’s a long time coming for anybody that gets to debut at this level.”

Crook said that’s the way he likes to play — loose. 

“I was having fun,” he said. “You’re gonna see a lot of that from me. I like to enjoy the game and have fun. That was a special at-bat. The result was the result but it was a special moment. It was a lot of fun to be out there and to do it.”

In his next at-bat, Crook deposited a 104.8 mph liner down the left field line for an RBI double and flashed a huge smile while standing on second base:

“I think everybody’s just super happy for him,” Ross said. “The locker room in there was pretty happy for him. Everybody was in a really good place. You can’t miss that smile when he was coming back to the dugout. Super nice night.”

This is Crook’s first season in the Cubs organization after spending eight years in the Reds system.

“He’s got a really good story of coming over, working on some things our minor league group identified within his swing and making some adjustments,” Ross said. “I think he reported to Arizona right around or right after Thanksgiving and worked really hard on some changes they identified.”

Crook got off to a slow start with Triple-A Iowa, batting only .104 with a .425 OPS in the first month of the season.

But since the middle of May, he has been on an absolute tear.

Over his last 31 games in the minors, Crook was hitting .339/.429/.661 (1.089 OPS) with 8 homers, 24 RBI, 29 runs and 8 stolen bases.

“[Cubs third base coach] Willie [Harris] knows him from Cincinnati, loves the guy, loves the human,” Ross said. “He works really hard. There’s apparently a lot of good feels throughout the organization when he got the call last night. Apparently he was pretty pumped up and emotional. You love to hear those stories.”

Thursday marked Crook’s first trip to Wrigley Field. He was born in the Dominican Republic but moved to New Jersey when he was 11 and attended a junior college on the East Coast before the Reds selected him in the 23rd round of the 2013 MLB Draft.

“A lot of excitement,” Crook said pregame. “It’s everybody’s dream, coming up and to be at such a beautiful park, it’s gorgeous here. I’ve only been here for a few hours and you can already tell — it’s beautiful.

“I’m here, I’m having fun, I’m enjoying the moment and I’m ready to play.”

It was a long road to the majors for Crook, but he never felt like he was ready to give it up.

“In my heart, I always knew I was a big leaguer and I always wanted to prove that to myself,” he said. “I’m not a quitter. I’m here. I’ve always worked and I’m going to continue to work.”

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