Zach McKinstry joins Cubs hungry for opportunity

Zach McKinstry joins Cubs hungry for opportunity

In the 20-some hours since becoming a Cub, Zach McKinstry has already revealed his love for Chicago deep-dish pizza, specifically Lou Malnati’s.

But more importantly, McKinstry’s hunger for his new opportunity is even more evident.

“I’m gonna go hard, play to the best of my ability, give it 100 percent on every play,” said McKinstry, acquired from the Dodgers this weekend, after joining the Cubs on Sunday.

“Just trying to win baseball games.”

The Dodgers have done a lot of winning since McKinstry debuted in 2020. But getting him playing time was easier said than done.

McKinstry, a 2016 33rd-round pick who grew up in nearby Fort Wayne, Ind., burst onto the scene with Los Angeles last season, hitting .296/.328/.556 in 17 games in April before going down with an oblique strain.

He cooled off after returning and had sporadic playing time this season behind Trea Turner, Gavin Lux, Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, among others.

McKinstry, a versatile player with experience all around the diamond, has spent most of 2022 in Triple-A. In 10 big-league games, he’s recorded 14 plate appearances.

“Playing every day is my goal. That’s why we’re here,” said McKinstry, whom the Cubs acquired Saturday for reliever Chris Martin.

“I felt almost like a caged animal there (in Los Angeles), just hanging out on the bench — getting to see what they’re doing, though, learning from some of the best in the game. Excited to use it now.”

With his situation, McKinstry — whom the Dodgers optioned to Triple-A five times this season — said he had been in communication with manager Dave Roberts and had a feeling a trade could be coming.

The Dodgers alerted him of the news Saturday morning.

“A few tears were shed,” McKinstry said. “I was sad to leave. I’ve been there my whole career. But I’m excited for the new opportunity. Had a meeting with Dave Roberts and he wished me good luck.”

For a Cubs team in transition, McKinstry has an opportunity at consistent playing time as a super utility player. It’s easy to see why manager David Ross called him “multi-faceted.”

McKinstry can play both corner outfield spots, shortstop, and second and third base. He’s one of only three left-handed bats on the Cubs’ roster.

“I’m comfortable at all of them, honestly,” McKinstry said. “I grew up playing shortstop, so I’m always gonna say shortstop. But very comfortable at all those positions.”

Ross said Saturday he spoke to Roberts and got a scouting report on the newest Cub. He told McKinstry he’s heard good things from people throughout the baseball world.

And while McKinstry’s attention this season has been on the Dodgers, he comes with a positive outside perspective of his new team.

“There’s a bunch of really good, talented players,” McKinstry said of the Cubs. “I’m excited to be here.

“Played a hard series against these guys early on in LA (in 2021) and then came in there. They were fighting, played some good games. 

“Maybe push them over the edge,” McKinstry added, chuckling. “That’s the goal.”

Contributing from San Francisco: Gordon Wittenmyer

This content was originally published here.

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