Ian Happ makes favorable impression on Cubs ace Jon Lester before sent to minors – Chicago Tribune

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The Chicago Cubs trimmed their spring training roster to 31 Monday by making five cuts, including 2015 first round pick Ian Happ.

Happ, who batted .392 with five home runs and 17 RBIs, was assigned to the minor league camp with outfielder John Andreoli and catcher Taylor Davis. Happ’s strong spring put him in position to receive a promotion to the majors in the event of an emergency.

Happ’s production and poise impressed ace Jon Lester.

“As you get older, it’s fun to see these young guys come up and not be surprised by the moment. I just remember my first league camp and you’re facing your first big leaguer, and you’re thinking, ‘woah. I’m facing this guy?’ You see these guys, and they don’t care. ‘Who are you? I’m just trying to get hits.’

“And it’s fun to see that because their transition is easy when they get to the big leagues. It’s still not that awe moment where I’m facing this guy.”

Lester recalled his first springs with the Boston Red Sox and facing the likes of Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada.

“And the list goes on. ‘Oh my God, I used to watch this guy,’ ” Lester said. ” ‘This guy is awesome,’ instead of worrying about trying to get these guys out. It’s really impressive to see how these guys handle it, and he definitely made an impression on a lot of us.

“It’s always nice when you get to see these guys close up and see what they can do. I’m sure we’re going to need him at some point and you always end up needing guys throughout the year so hopefully he can contribute somewhere down the road.”

Pitchers Eddie Butler and Rob Zastryzny were optioned to Triple-A Iowa.

The Cubs will make an official decision soon on Rule 5 pick Caleb Smith, who isn’t likely to make the roster. The Cubs, however, could try to work out a deal with the New York Yankees or simply offer him back to the Yankees for $50,000.

Outfielder Matt Szczur, who is out of minor league options, remains in camp. But several teams are interested in Szczur, whose potential departure could pave the way for left-handed hitting infielder Tommy La Stella to receive the final spot.

Non-roster invitees Carlos Corporan, infielders Chris Dominguez and Jemile Weeks appear destined for a reassignment to the minor league camp. 

The Cubs roster could look like this:

Pitchers: Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, Brett Anderson, Kyle Hendricks, Mike Montgomery, Kyle Davis, Koji Uehara, Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr., Justin Grimm, Brian Duensing.

Catchers: Willson Contreras, Miguel Montero.

Infielders: Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Tommy La Stella.

Outfielders: Jason Heyward, Jon Jay, Albert Almora Jr., Kyle Schwarber.



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