No matter the age or level, sons have gone out on the baseball diamond to make their fathers proud. With his dad watching from the stands of Jackie Robinson Ballpark on Tuesday, Albert Almora had extra motivation to do well.
Twenty days after Albert Almora Sr. underwent surgery for prostate cancer, he was cheering his son on again. And he witnessed a particularly exciting game with the 20-year-old collecting a career-high three doubles and plating four runs in Class A Advanced Daytona's 12-0 rout of Charlotte.
"He came out of [surgery so] strong that the doctors said he could come," said the Cubs' No. 3 prospect. "He's my hero, I'm blessed to have him here and you get to appreciate your life and know that baseball is just a game."
Since coming to the Florida State League, Almora has been able to have his parents, who live in Miami, at many of his games. With them in attendance Tuesday, the center fielder went 3-for-5.
MLB.com's No. 16 overall prospect entered the contest in a 5-for-36 slump, having plated just two runs in that span.
"To be honest with you, I just tried to slow the game down. I just kept trying to do too much and kept speeding it up when I was struggling, but every day is a grind. And I have to just keep working," he said. "Baseball, it's a long season, you're not going to get three hits every day. Days like these you have to log and analyze what you did. I just have to sit back and figure out what worked for next time."
The sixth overall pick in the 2012 Draft worked on shortening up his batting stance, as well as swinging at pitches he "can control" after talking with his mom, manager Dave Keller, hitting coach Mariano Duncan and the man who he has bonded with baseball over since he was 4 years old.
The elder Almora played baseball in Cuba before moving with wife Ana to Florida. Even in tough times like now, he continues to share the game he loves with his son.
"It's everything," he said of his father's impact on his game. "I sit back and I think if we get in a stretch where we don't do good, you just have to fight because he could overcome so much."
The Cubs overwhelmed the Stone Crabs with at least a run in each of the first five innings. Zeke DeVoss and Marco Hernandez collected two hits and plated a run apiece.
Daytona starter Ben Wells (2-2), who has split time between the bullpen and rotation this season, hurled his longest outing of the campaign by striking out eight over six three-hit innings.
"Anytime you can get run support, it makes my job a lot easier," the right-hander said. "My arm feels good. I really built it up in the offseason to go deep like that. I was able to keep a low pitch count. … I was just going after guys. They have a couple guys in the middle of the order that have a lot of power like Tyler Goeddel and Patrick Leonard -- I think Leonard had two homers last night. The game plan is to not let those guys beat me."
The Cubs have kept the 6-foot-3 hurler on a rotation schedule, though he could come in relief instead of making a start on the fifth day. Over three seasons, Wells has started 47 of his 58 games, but said the organization hasn't given him an indication of where they'd like him to end up.
Leonel Santiago (1-4) was knocked out of the game after allowing six runs on six hits over 2 2/3 frames.