CHICAGO (AP) — With the Chicago Cubs in desperate need of a win, manager Joe Maddon put Jason Heyward in right field for Game 4 of the World Series on Saturday night.
It’s the first start for the slumping Heyward since he went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series at Los Angeles. The 27-year-old Heyward, who signed a $184 million, eight-year contract with Chicago last winter, did not play in the World Series opener at Cleveland and entered each of the last two games as a pinch runner before staying in to play right.
The Cubs trailed 2-1 in the best-of-seven series heading into Saturday night’s game at Wrigley Field.
The Indians also made a couple of intriguing changes with ace Corey Kluber on the mound, putting Rajai Davis in left and moving Carlos Santana to first base. That meant Mike Napoli was out of the starting lineup for the first time in the postseason after playing a key role in Cleveland’s run to the AL pennant.
“With Kluber pitching, I’d like us to have a good defense out there,” manager Terry Francona said. “I labored back and forth on our first baseman. I hated like crazy not playing Napoli. I physically hate it. But Nap’s going to play tomorrow against the lefty, and we may put Santana back in the outfield tomorrow again. We’ll see. I just thought tonight it would serve us better, even having Nap out of the lineup, to have a defense in there and with Rajai playing.”
Heyward is 2 for 31 with nine strikeouts in 12 playoff games this year, continuing his struggles from the regular season. He hit .230 with a career-low seven homers in 142 games.
“For right now pretty much just go play without overthinking it right now,” Maddon said. “Just go play and just contribute to us winning somehow. But absolutely it’s something that needs to be addressed and he will address it in the offseason. I have a lot of faith in him going into next year.”
Maddon also moved second baseman Javier Baez down one spot in the order to eighth. The 23-year-old Baez, the co-MVP of the NLCS with pitcher Jon Lester, went 0 for 4 in Chicago’s 1-0 loss on Friday night, striking out with runners on second and third to end the game.
“The last couple nights maybe shows that he is 22 or 23 years of age,” Maddon said. “Maybe finally he demonstrates that. Again, what that requires more than anything is just talking to him. Having him getting back to the approach that made him so successful for the last two series in the latter part of the season. That’s it.”
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap
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