At this time a year ago, second baseman Nick Madrigal was a foundational piece for a White Sox team expected to make multiple October runs.
Then on June 9, Madrigal suffered a proximal tear of his right hamstring, an injury that required surgery and one that ended his season and a late-spring breakout that saw him slash .365/.420/.568 over his final 20 games. That play was also his last with the Sox before the blockbuster deadline deal that sent him and reliever Codi Heuer to the Cubs for Craig Kimbrel.
So, to put it mildly, a lot has happened to Madrigal over the last 12 months. He’s still a foundational piece in Chicago, just for a different team with a different timeline after getting traded while recovering from a severe injury.
“There’s a lot of different moving parts,” Madrigal said. “A lot has happened the last couple years. Some good, some bad. It’s just part of the business. I’m fortunate to be with this organization. I think it truly was a blessing to come over here and meet some of these guys, work with the staff. I’ve been so happy over here. It’s just been incredible.
“I’m looking forward to this year. A lot has happened the last couple years, but I’m very blessed to be in this position.”
That Madrigal is handling the upheaval of the last year the way he is doesn’t surprise Cubs infielder Nico Hoerner. Madrigal and Hoerner have known each other for years and trained together during the lockout.
Hoerner said Madrigal is very level-headed, and that’s a trait that’s helpful regardless of the situation.
“He does a really good job of building relationships with people all around the organization, from staff to players, coaches, everybody,” Hoerner said. “He brings a lot to the clubhouse, likes to work but has fun while doing it. It’s all you can ask for.”
Madrigal has one hit three games into his Cubs career. But more importantly he said he feels great physically, even despite the chilly weather during the Cubs’ opening series at Wrigley Field against the Brewers. Madrigal also felt tightness in his right glute during spring training this year.
He also has to put out of his head what happened last June, when his hustle to first base on a slow chopper to third ripped up his hamstring and ended his season.
“I’ve got to have faith in everything I’ve done, all the work I’ve put in to get back to this point,” Madrigal said. “You can’t really worry about what happened in the past. I know it was a tough one, but I’m confident in everyone that’s gotten me to this point. My body’s feeling really good at this point.
“I just focus on going out there and giving everything I have and just not worrying.”
Madrigal doesn’t have to worry much about his role with the Cubs. Since last summer’s teardown, the Cubs have stressed a contact-first approach at the plate that focuses on getting the ball in play, and that’s what Madrigal is known for.
And as Hoerner alluded to, Madrigal also seems to be a snug fit in the Cubs clubhouse.
“I love it. I think this is a really good clubhouse,” Madrigal said. “With the chemistry, the people, it makes it easy to show up every single day, get along with anyone you see. I think if we have good chemistry in the clubhouse it will show on the field. I really do feel comfortable out there with these guys and I’m looking forward to it.”
NOTE: Reliever Keegan Thompson was suspended three games and fined for hitting the Brewers’ Andrew McCutchen during the eighth inning of Saturday’s game. Manager David Ross was suspended for a game, which he will serve Tuesday.
Thompson has the right to appeal.
CUBS AT PIRATES
Tusday: Drew Smyly (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Jose Quintana (0-0, 0.00), 3:12 p.m., Marquee, 670-AM
Wednesday: Kyle Hendricks (0-0, 1.69) vs. JT Brubaker (0-1, 12.00), 11:35 a.m., Marquee, 670-AM