Cubs’ Ian Happ on homestand: ‘I don’t want to leave here without absorbing it’

After jogging into left field, Ian Happ took off his hat and stared at the bleachers. The fans responded with cheers. His routine before first pitch on Monday was a little extra emotional.

“I don’t want to leave here without absorbing it,” Happ said before the game Monday.

This week’s two-game set against the Pirates is the Cubs’ final home series before the trade deadline. So, this could also be Happ’s last series at Wrigley Field in blue pinstripes. He and catcher Wilson Contreras are the longest-serving Cubs embroiled in trade speculation ahead of the Aug. 2 deadline.

“It’s a weird thing we signed up for sometimes,” Happ said. “Especially since I’ve been here since 2015, Wilson has been here forever.”

Since 2009, when the Cubs signed Contreras from Venezuela, to be exact. And Ross pointed to Contreras, the player who has drawn the most contract and trade speculation of any time this year, as an example of staying focused on the field amid distractions.

“I think he’s very caught up right now and trying to be the best player he can be for his team, as he portrays it many times,” Ross said last weekend in Philadelphia. “And I think that’s a powerful message, that he’s sent, and a very good mindset that he’s in.”

Both Contreras and Happ witnessed the Anthony Rizzo trade last year right after the Cubs’ last home game before the deadline. He was the first of a core trio, including Javy Báez and Kris Bryant, to be traded in a 24-hour period.

This year’s schedule, however, gives the Cubs a week on the road leading up to the trade deadline. So, the Wrigley Field goodbye will have to come soon, with plenty of uncertainty ahead.

The MLB Draft reminded Happ on his draft day last week of how far he’s come in the organization, and all the relationships he’s cultivated over the past seven years.

“I don’t want my child’s journey to end,” Happ said. “I don’t want to stop wearing the uniform and coming here every day.”

On the other hand, he’s seen how well his former teammates Rizzo, Bryant and Báez are doing after being traded around this time last year.

Even for players who don’t have the deep ties to the Cubs organization that Contreras and Happ have, the trade deadline can bring mixed emotions.

Take it from veteran lefty Drew Smiley, who signed with the Cubs this spring. Back in 2018, he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery in the organization, but hadn’t played for the big league squad before that season.

“I love it here, I love being a kid,” Smiley said in Philadelphia after his last start. “This is a really fun organization to be a part of. The home games are amazing. This clubhouse is great. We haven’t had the best start. Obviously, our record is not where we want to be. But every Showing off the day, everyone has a smile on their face.

“And being in so many different clubhouses, you really get into it as a player, knowing that you’re looking forward to going on the field every day. There are winning teams where it’s just that. do not have.”

On the other hand, the Cubs won’t be ready for a championship this year, and being traded to a contender re-opens that possibility for players.

“Trying to really enjoy the next couple of days here,” Happ said. “And we’ll see what happens.”

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