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Belli blast blacks out Wrigley board

CHICAGO — The Cubs were receiving calls about the potential availability of center fielder Cody Bellinger not that long ago. The team’s recent surge swiftly ended any thought of trying to deal the star for a package of prospects.

“He was popular in early conversations,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said on Tuesday afternoon. “He’s just fit in perfectly. That was a really easy decision to keep him here.”

After Tuesday’s 5 p.m. CT Trade Deadline came and went, Bellinger showed his appreciation by launching a towering home run off Reds starter Ben Lively in the second inning of the Cubs’ 20-9 rout of Cincinnati. The baseball struck the lower left corner of the right-field video board, which sustained some temporary damage.

As Bellinger rounded third and headed home, part of the video board — showing him crossing the plate and high-fiving teammate Mike Tauchman — turned black. It took until the top of the third for that part of the display to be restored.

“They fixed it real quick,” said Bellinger, who laughed when asked if he thought the team might send him a repair bill. “I was a little worried.”

Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson, who had two homers of his own in the blowout, called the shot off the board “impressive.”

“Left-handed hitters just have such prettier swings than right-handed hitters,” said Swanson, who admired the blast from the on-deck circle. “When you watch it from that angle, as soon as he hits it, it’s like a movie.”

The blast — one of seven on the night for the Cubs — was the 16th of the season for a resurgent Bellinger, who was thrilled not to be packing his bags this week after the Cubs’ recent stretch of winning convinced the front office to shift into buy mode.

“I knew the circumstances,” Bellinger said on Monday. “But, for me now, it’s just all about continuing to win. Whether there’s trade rumors or not, the goal is to win every single day. That’s what we have — a good team that understands that. So, same old business from here on out, honestly.”

Bellinger just wrapped up a scorching-hot July in which he hit at a .400 clip with eight homers, five doubles and 24 RBIs in 26 games. He was the seventh Cubs batter on record to have at least a .400 average and eight or more homers in a calendar month, per the Elias Sports Bureau.

“He’s been everything we expected, but he’s been even better than we expected,” Hoyer said. “He’s been fantastic. He’s also just, you’ve seen how he interacts with our players, how he is in the clubhouse, how he is out on the [field with the] team. He’s a huge part of why we have so much confidence in this team.”

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