On fire at plate, Zobrist hopes to keep it up

Cubs 2B has hit in 15 straight, has 34-start on-base streak

On fire at plate, Zobrist hopes to keep it up

CHICAGO -- It isn't a question of whether Ben Zobrist will get another hit these days, but how many and where are they going.

"He's raking right now," Cubs pitcher John Lackey said. "When he gets up at the plate, we're just wondering which direction the hit's going to go. When he makes an out, it's surprising. He's really fun to watch."

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Zobrist belted a three-run homer Sunday in the Cubs' 7-2 win over the Phillies to extend his hitting streak to 15 games. He's reached safely in his past 34 starts, and has 40 hits in May, the most in any month in his career. Zobrist is the first Cub to collect 40 hits in May since Alfonso Soriano in 2008.

"I'm trying to figure out myself if I can keep this up, to be honest," said Zobrist, who turned 35 on Thursday. "I don't think I've ever had a month when I hit this well. You just try to keep going. That's all I'm doing is doing the same things, the same drills and trying to manage my body well and have good at-bats."

His slash line for May is .421/.496/.684, and the only concern manager Joe Maddon has regarding Zobrist is when to give him a breather.

"I think he's covering a greater variety of pitches more consistently -- offspeed, fastball -- probably better than he did when he was younger," said Maddon, who manager Zobrist when both were with the Rays from 2006-14.

"What I'm doing is trying to be as consistent as possible with my approach," Zobrist said, "and at the same time, making the adjustment with the pitchers."

Maybe it's helped that Zobrist has played second base rather than move around, which is how Maddon used him with the Rays. Maybe it's because of his preparation before and after games. Maybe he's just learned over the years what it takes.

"When you're feeling something good and it's working and you're on time and putting good swings on the ball, you try to stay there as long as you can," Zobrist said. "I've learned a lot of things over the years to make sure my body feels right at the start of the game, and if it doesn't, what adjustments I need to make."

On Monday, his wife, Julianna, will sing the national anthem before the Cubs' game at Wrigley Field.

"She's a pro," Ben said. "It'll be fun to hear her do that on Memorial Day. She's very patriotic."

He has done everything for the Cubs, but doesn't help with the lyrics of her songs.

"She's the real talent, I feel, in our family," Ben said. "I'm more of a black and white, straight-laced, try to do it by the book. She's so creative and artistic."

As far as the Cubs are concerned, he is doing just fine.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.