Outfielder Mike Tuckman (33), who played for the Hanwha Eagles of the KBO last year, has emerged as the Cubs’ backstop. Despite the impending return of slugger Cody Bellinger (28) from injury, Tuckman has managed to keep his roster spot without being demoted to the minors.
Tuckman started in the leadoff spot in the lineup against the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 15 and went 3-for-5 with a home run, two RBIs and three runs scored to lead the Cubs to a 10-6 comeback victory.
After leading off the game with a single up the middle in the first inning, Tuckman hit a two-run double to center field with the bases loaded in the sixth inning to spark a six-run rally. He followed with a single to left in the eighth to complete his second three-hit game of the season. Also made a stellar play on defense in the seventh inning, snagging Carlos Santana’s long fly ball off the fence.
Tuckman, who was called up to the big leagues on March 20, is batting .415 with a .343 on-base percentage, .758 slugging percentage, eight doubles, 13 walks and 16 strikeouts in 23 games this season (29-for-67). In his last four games in the leadoff spot, he is 4-for-17 with two doubles, two RBIs, a .474 on-base percentage, a .529 slugging percentage and a 1.003 OPS.
Tuckman’s call-up came as a result of an injury to starting center fielder Bellinger. Bellinger, a former National League MVP, signed a one-year, $17.5 million deal with the Cubs this year after being non-tendered by the Los Angeles Dodgers last winter and showed signs of resurgence, batting .271 (39-for-144) with seven homers, 20 RBIs and an .830 OPS in 37 games before going down with an injury.
However, he injured his left knee making a jumping catch while playing defense against the Houston Astros on March 16 and was placed on the disabled list. Tuckman was called up in his place, and it was expected that he would have to fill in again when Bellinger returned from injury.
However, Tuckman’s performance has exceeded expectations, changing the Cubs’ plans. Bellinger spent the last 14-15 days rehabbing at Triple-A Iowa, playing first base instead of center field. He’s preparing to return to first base, a position that doesn’t require as much defensive work, to prevent a recurrence of his knee injury.
According to MLB.com, Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said, “It’s a way to get Bellinger comfortable in the game. He has the most impact on the team when he’s playing center field, and we don’t intend to keep him at first base the rest of the season. It’s about getting Bellinger back in the lineup,” Hoyer said, adding that he’s playing first base to make his return a little quicker and safer.
Hoyer then mentioned Tuckman. “He’s been really good for us. He’s hitting really well against right-handed pitching, which is what we need.” Tuckman’s production against right-handed pitching has been outstanding, going 3-for-8 (16-for-52) with five RBI and a .787 OPS.토토사이트
Tuckman’s performance is impressive enough to warrant a mention from the president himself. With his versatility on defense and at the plate, it’s unlikely he’ll be sent down to the minors even if Bellinger returns and takes over the middle infield defense. Tuckman was disappointed to not be able to re-sign with Hanwha after last year’s season, but he has found a home with his hometown team, the Cubs.