By Eugene McIntosh @stayhumble
A team in transition is the perfect landing spot for a player looking to show and prove his worth. It's basically an open audition. Not just for the current team but all of the other twenty-nine teams across Major League Baseball.
That's exactly what Patrick Wisdom aka #PWizzy (yes he's done enough to earn The Bigs nickname honor...https://www.mlb.com/news/best-nicknames-in-baseball) has done for a woeful Chicago Cubs team that needs more aid and assist than a little bit. His slash line of .256/.320/.579 with 25 HR and 50 RBI (he does have 111 strikeouts in 254 at bats) has garnered Rookie of the Year attention and more importantly for him...a possible spot in the opening day lineup for the 2022 squad.
Wisdom was called up May 25 and became the first player in the modern era to hit 8 home runs in his first 36 plate appearances. Like most professional hitters, he hit a bump in the road when he quickly became a name on the scouting report and pitchers began to make the necessary adjustments. He stayed the course and stuck to his script by grinding and believing in the work he put in to get to the show and has come through in a tough time for a fourth place team 22.5 games behind the first place Milwaukee Brewers.
He's also one home run shy of tying the Cubs all time rookie HR record (26) set by Kris Bryant in his 2015 Rookie of the Year campaign.
I caught up with Wisdom for a few minutes Sunday morning after his 2 HR/4 RBI performance in the Cubs 7-0 win over the White Sox Saturday evening.
Q- You've been on people's radars lately. They see the back to back HR games, hear the Rookie of the Year conversations but don't know your grind, the ups and downs and what it's taken for you to get to this point as a 30 year old rookie. How rocky was the road to get here?
A-There's been a lot of great times and a lot of tough times but I think that's the best part about this game. The journey, handling those dark moments and tough times. Sleepless nights thinking about your swing and thinking about the game but it's also riding those highs and taking the good things each day on to the next day. It's also about being quick to flush those bad moments even though you might not be able to sleep at night but it's being able to go to the next day not worrying and not carrying the past with you because the past can get heavy. If you're carrying it with you then it's gonna be tough to keep moving forward.
Q- We've seen you in left field, right field, at third base and first base. How has the versatility helped your progression?
A- I think it's helped a lot honestly like just more focusing on like defensive stuff kinda helps you stop thinking about your swing or thinking about hitting. It gives you something else to think about so that way when you go to hit it's more simple. I love playing defense, i love playing the outfield and I love throwing guys out. Last night there was a lot of action at third...I mean I love that part of the game too. I take pride in it. It's just a fun aspect of the game.
Q- You have this huge weekend, you continue to gain momentum around major league baseball and you're now being looked at as this stud home run hitter. How do you keep on an even keel and not let the love and recognition get the best of you?
A- That's a great question. I'd say...I don't wanna sound arrogant or cocky but like I know that I can hit home runs and I know that I can produce. So I think knowing that...it doesn't get to my head. I'm not gonna walk around like I'm some home run king like I'm Mark McGwire you know. I'm the same guy in the clubhouse, I love interacting with the fans, signing for the kids and that type of thing. I think that really puts everything into perspective and I think having a key perspective allows you to go out everyday and be the best version of yourself you can be.
Q- You spent a little time with Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo. Were you closer to any of them than the others and what did you take away from seeing the everyday professionalism especially from guys who reached the ultimate goal at such a young age?
A- I'd say I had a close relationship in different ways with each of those guys. You know Rizzo as everyone knows is very outgoing, very out in front of the team kinda leading the pack. KB is more to himself, kinda the quiet assassin and Javy's the flashy magician. Each guy had their own way of going about the game and I think I was able to pick up on that and talk to them in different ways, learn from them, learn how they play the game and kinda add that to my game. I think playing with those guys has helped me a lot. They've been in the game for a long time and have had successes for a long time. Being able to pick their brains about how they went about each day has really helped.