SOUTH BEND — Power is always appreciated in baseball.
Dingers and doubles will never go out of style.
But don’t forget about the guys who use their legs.
Hitters won’t always be dialed in, but hustle does not need to go into a slump.
The South Bend Cubs are buying it.
These Class-A players are out to “Respect 90” feet and play hard.
“You can’t control everything in this game, but one thing you can control is your effort and the way you hustle,” South Bend outfielder Charcer Burks said. “If you run hard and put pressure on the defense, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
It’s all about hustle.
“We’re definitely trying to preach aggressiveness on the bases,” South Bend manager Jimmy Gonzalez said. “We’re not going to take that away.
“It is helping. We’re encouraging them to take extra bases when they can. We’re encouraging first to third.”
When a pitch or a throw is in the dirt, Gonzalez wants his players moving if they have a chance to move up a base.
Burks, South Bend’s lead-off man, loves being one of the players who has the manager’s trust and the “green light” to run at their discretion.
“Jimmy trusts us to go out there and make stuff happen when we can,” Burks said. “Whenever you take the extra base, you’re setting up the guy behind you. That’s something I try to do every time I come up.”
Whatever it takes to score a run, that’s the priority for Burks, who led the team in stolen bases with 12 and was among the leaders in on-base percentage at .373 through 42 games.
“That’s just my mindset,” Burks said. “Anything you do to score, whether it’s stealing bases, going first to third and scoring on the base hit in the gap from first, that’s what I’m going to do.”