Madrigal ‘excited' to build on connection with Hoerner

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Nick Madrigal and Nico Hoerner never got a chance to take the field together with the Cubs last summer following Madrigal’s trade from the White Sox.

So maybe it’s no surprise as MLB’s lockout dragged on, the two got together to prepare for the season, working out at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix last month.

“Getting some work in, getting familiar with each other again,” Madrigal said. “It’s exciting. 

“We have that connection off the field, but it’s going to be fun to get on the field and show people what we can do together.”

That connection goes back years. 

Madrigal, who underwent season-ending surgery last June for a right hamstring injury, and Hoerner both grew up in northern California and played together for Team USA as teenagers.

Their paths crossed again in college. Madrigal (Oregon State) and Hoerner (Stanford) squared off in the Pac-12 before both were drafted in the first round in 2018.

Four years later, the two are set to be key contributors together with the Cubs. 

Madrigal appears slotted in at second base. He was training at the Cubs’ Arizona facility up until the lockout hit, and with players barred from communicating with teams, continued his rehab at Helix in Scottsdale.

He said his leg feels “great” and he expects to be ready for Opening Day. 

“It’s been a couple of months since I’ve felt nervous about my leg at all," Madrigal said. "I feel like I’m at a point where I almost forget which leg it is."

Hoerner will see extended time at multiple positions in 2022. Though the Cubs signed four-time Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons, Hoerner still could see time there — opposite of Madrigal.

“We have a lot of confidence in Nico playing shortstop,” Cubs president Jed Hoyer said Monday. “He’s also an elite defensive second baseman. And we couldn’t have been more excited to trade for Madrigal. 

“And I think with Nick and with Nico having some injuries last year, we’re definitely aware that 162 is probably not going to happen. 

“We have three middle infielders we have a ton of faith in, and I think almost like on the pitching side, we’ll continue to add depth and give [Cubs manager David Ross] options of moving those guys around.”

Whenever we see them as double play partners, Madrigal and Hoerner have a connection to lean — and build — on.

“I think the great teams have a strong bond off the field, and it shows on the field,” Madrigal said. “So, I’m excited to get with him. 

“We know each other so well. It’s going to be fun.”

Contributing from Arizona: Gordon Wittenmyer

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