Cubs Padres Baseball

Chicago Cubs' Nico Hoerner hits a two-RBI triple during the fifth inning of Monday's game at San Diego. Hoerner had three hits and drove in four in his major league debut to lead the Cubs to a 10-2 victory.

SAN DIEGO — Nico Hoerner didn’t have the buildup that accompanied fellow first-round picks Javier Baez and Kris Bryant on their paths to the majors.

But he made an instant impact Monday night despite not possessing that minor-league seasoning.

Hoerner, who was promoted because of injuries at shortstop despite not playing above the Double-A level, went 3-for-4 with a two-run triple and four RBIs and played flawless defense in his major-league debut to lead the Chicago Cubs to a 10-2 win over the Padres.

“That’s about as good as it gets,” said Hoerner, who heard chants of “Nico, Nico” that grew louder as the game progressed. “I told my girlfriend the first time a ball hits my glove or my bat, I feel like the game will feel pretty normal after that.”

Said Cubs manager Joe Maddon: “You could have put a spotlight on him the entire evening.”

The Cubs and Padres played a late game Tuesday that was still in progress at Pantagraph press time.

Hoerner became the first Cubs player with at least three hits and at least four RBIs in his major league debut since Dee Fondy on April 17, 1951, according to Christopher Kamka of NBC Sports Chicago. Hoerner received the balls from each of his three hits in his locker as mementos.

The 22-year-old was the Cubs’ first pick in the 2018 draft and the first member of that draft class to reach the majors. He was promoted because Baez suffered a hairline fracture of the left thumb that makes his return in the regular season doubtful, Addison Russell suffered concussion-like symptoms after getting beaned and Triple-A Iowa shortstop Dixon Machado injured his hamstring last week.

Hoerner said he and his father looked at each other after watching Russell get hit by a pitch on television, and he thought, “Dang, maybe if something was different this year. It wasn’t an ideal year for me, but there’s no better place to be now.”

Hoerner missed more than two months this year because of a left wrist fracture, but didn’t disappoint at the plate or in the field in front of many Cubs fans and 25 family members and friends, including a few who took a one-hour flight from his hometown of Oakland, Calif.

He hit an 0-2 breaking pitch off Padres pitcher Cal Quantrill, a former Stanford teammate, into shallow right field for a single in his first major league at-bat.

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In the fourth, Hoerner reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on a short wild pitch.

Hoerner highlighted a five-run fifth inning by pulling a triple down the left field line to score Nicholas Castellanos and Victor Caratini. With two out in the sixth, Hoerner smacked a two-run single up the middle off left-hander Robbie Erlin.

“What you saw tonight is what you saw in spring training,” Maddon said of Hoerner, who was 8-for-17 with six extra base hits. “Everything you saw tonight was absolutely expected of him. That’s what he’s capable of doing.”

Entering Monday’s game, Hoerner had 337 minor league at-bats, batting .297 with 19 doubles, five triples, five home runs, 28 RBI and a .793 OPS in 89 games.

His blend of timely hitting and solid defense invigorated a Cubs team that had lost three consecutive games.

“When he did something good, (his teammates) were there to take care of him,” Maddon said. “They’re there to give him a hard time and take care of him.

“That’s what you do with the younger players, whether you’re a freshman on the varsity, or you’re making your first appearance in a pennant race. Be prepared for both sides, and he’s capable of handling it.”

In the bottom of the second, Hoerner made a backhanded stop and made a strong throw from the outfield grass to retire Wil Myers.

In the third, Hoerner ranged to his left to field and spun before making a one-hop throw from the outfield grass that first baseman Anthony Rizzo picked for the final out.

“He showed his composure, showed his maturity for his age,” said 38-year-old second baseman Ben Zobrist. “Getting called up after being home. There’s a lot of things that go into being able to perform at this level on your first day with all the guys, and it’s a dream come true for him.

“But to see him preform is quite impressive.”

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