BASEBALL: The spring that was — then wasn’t — for Wallingford’s P.J. Higgins

BASEBALL: The spring that was — then wasn’t — for Wallingford’s P.J. Higgins

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Wallingford native P.J. Higgins was having a big spring with the Chicago Cubs in big league camp in Mesa, Arizona.

Then came March 12, when spring training was halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was having a good spring,” Higgins said on a telephone interview from Arizona this week. “I was having a really good spring and playing well with the big league club.”

Higgins was batting .320 and had a .469 on base percentage. In 32 plate appearances, Higgins had eight hits that included two home runs and a double. He scored eight runs scored and seven RBI in Cactus League play.

He also took seven walks and fanned five times.

“I felt more comfortable being around the guys than last year,” Higgins said. “I had a better idea of what to expect coming into it. I wasn't nervous. I was a little more confident what was going to happen and what the schedule was going to be.

Higgins had a seventh-inning, game-tying double in the Cubs’ final game of the spring, a 3-2 win over the Padres. 

Higgins, a catcher, split time with Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa last season.

This spring, he played in all but one game behind Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini. Higgins has come off the bench in 16 contests and drew one start.

This was the second year in a row that Higgins was in big league camp for spring.

“All of the work I have put in has given me confidence,” Higgins said. “I knew I was ready to go and work. I’ve learned a lot being around the big league guys. It’s been an awesome experience.”

Higgins, who will turn 27 in May, was drafted by the Cubs out of Old Dominion University in 2015. He couldn’t say if he would have cracked the big league roster if the season started on time, but he hoped he left an impression.

“I was just trying to show them what I could do and let the other cards fall into place,” Higgins said. “I felt I put a good impression on them. I made it pretty deep into camp and it was going to be an exciting last couple of weeks of camp to see what happened.

Higgins had plans on leaving Arizona to be closer to his family.

“The season might get pushed back even more and we are kind of getting back into offseason mode,” Higgins said. “It’s the waiting game right now and I’m just trying to stay in shape right now.”

Major League Baseball, after initially pushing Opening Day back two weeks, is now aiming to open in mid May.

Higgins said it was a weird time after spring training was cancelled.

“You don’t know what to do,” Higgins said. “Nobody knows what’s going on and what’s going to happen. There are so many questions. Should I continue to hit and throw as much as I have done? Because you don’t know how long it’s going to last. We have to feel it out and keep it day by day.”