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The next big bat? Ian Happ says he’s ready for Cubs to call


MESA, Ariz. – Not even Ian Happ can envision the scenario that would make it happen. Or even what position he might play.

But he believes he’s ready to keep the Cubs’ freight train of hitting prospects rolling to the major leagues this year.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to help this ballclub in any way I can,” said Happ, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2015 draft. “I’m enjoying being versatile and being able to play multiple positions and just trying to take every opportunity I can to help the team.”

Cubs manager Joe Maddon not only has been impressed with the switch-hitting Happ in his first big-league camp but said the University of Cincinnati All-America could be in the Cubs’ plans to help defend their World Series title at some point this season.

“It’s up to him. Right now he looks great. He’s going to have to go out and play,” Maddon said. “He is in the conversation. Now its’ up to him to go out there and perform at a level that indicates that he’s ready right now.”

This is where the versatility comes in. The Cubs are loaded with young players on the roster at every position, including ultra-versatile Javy Baez – the National League Championship Series co-MVP – who doesn’t even have a starting job as the season opens.

Happ, one of the top hitters in the Cactus League this spring, is in the lineup against Colorado as the Cubs’ second baseman Monday. Maddon also has made sure to get him in the outfield more recently.

Monday’s lineup vs. the Rockies (3:10 p.m. CT):

LF Kyle Schwarber

CF Albert Almora Jr.

C Miguel Montero

RF Matt Szczur

3B Tommy La Stella

2B Ian Happ

1B Jeimer Candelario

SS Munenori Kawasaki

RHP Kyle Hendricks