Maddon told the beat writers he will bat the pitcher ninth a majority of the time. He did not rule out hitting the pitcher eighth “but not with the same consistency of last year.”
Maddon reiterated Addison Russell’s development was a key component in the decision to hit the pitcher eighth last season. Maddon said the “dynamics will be a little different” this year and he believes Russell “can hold his own a lot better.”
The Cubs lineup will depend on several factors this season … the opponent, who’s hot and the numbers Maddon receives from the team’s nerds. Maddon will receive “a week’s worth of lineups” from the baseball operations staff and “he’ll go from there” according to the report from Carrie Muskat.
Comcast SportsNet reported that Maddon likes the idea of hitting Ben Zobrist third ahead of Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. Maddon said, according to Patrick Mooney, he “used a Zobrist Light in the second half of last season” as his third hole hitter. While other factors were also in play, the Cubs were “27-9 with Chris Coghlan as their unconventional No. 3 hitter.”
Maddon pointed out that it’s a flawed theory that a team should bat their best hitter third. Maddon said, “The one thing that I do believe it … and what I’m finding out a lot about … is the third-hold hitter comes up a lot with two outs and nobody on. So why would you want to put your best hitter there? And then the supposed best hitter’s going to complain about hitting fourth because he comes up a lot with nobody on base leading off an inning. What would you rather have?”
Maddon also believes in protecting hitters and the importance of the on-base guys feeding the slug guys.
Joe Maddon used 119 different lineups during his first season with the Cubs. It will be interesting to see how many he uses this year with the depth on the roster.
Kyle Hendricks looked very good for four innings in his start Wednesday. Hendricks was not as sharp as he neared the 80-pitch mark and faced the Rangers the third time through the lineup. Hendricks was touched up for two runs on three two-out hits (double, triple and bloop single) before he recorded the third out in the fifth.
Hendricks struck out four of the first five batters he faced.
Hendricks said after the spring outing that his “changeup was working” and he was happy with the way he pitched.
Hendricks is looking at these starts as more than just pitching in Spring Training games. Hendricks said he has been “somewhat a slow starter” during his career. He wants to make sure that doesn’t happen this year.
The Sun-Times talked to a “longtime National League scout” about Hendricks’ start. The Sun-Times reported Hendricks should not be overlooked this year. The scout thinks Hendricks “looked really good” and that he is “going to be all right this year.”
Joe Maddon compared Trevor Cahill’s versatility to Ben Zobrist. Maddon told the beat writers about a conversation he had last year with Trevor Cahill. Maddon explained, “This guy is so versatile. It’s kind of like having a Zobrist in your bullpen or on your pitching staff.” Cahill picked up the spring save Tuesday and has pitched in two different roles in the Cactus League this spring … starter and closer.
Cahill has picked up this spring where he left off last year with the Cubs. Cahill posted a 1-0 record with a 2.12 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and 3.13 WHIP in 11 games over the last month of the season. Cahill appeared in six playoff games and was 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. This spring, Cahill has allowed two runs on four hits with a walk and six strikeouts in seven innings (three games, two starts).
Trevor Cahill could be used as a spot starter, long reliever, late inning reliever and closer this season.
Tommy La Stella
Tommy La Stella played defense Wednesday in a minor league game for the second straight day according to a report from Carrie Muskat. La Stella is being cautious with the calf injury that sidelined him on March 7.
La Stella said he wants to make sure he is “completely symptom-free, especially in games that don’t mean anything.” La Stella thinks it’s best for him to be “overly cautious” at this point to make sure he is healthy for the regular season.
The Cubs have not said when La Stella will play in a Cactus League game. With him participating in minor league games only, the Cubs could backdate a DL stint if necessary to give him a little more time at the beginning of the season.
Munenori Kawasaki has made the most of his non-roster invite to big league camp. Offensively, he’s put together a good spring with the Cubs. Kawasaki has more than fit in with the Cubs clubhouse while producing solid numbers at the plate (.367/.486/.467/.953 in 15 games). Kawasaki can handle second and short, especially in a backup role.
Joe Maddon admitted to the Sun-Times on Wednesday it would likely take an injury for Kawasaki to make the Opening Day roster. Maddon would be “really happy” if Kawasaki made the team.
As previously reported, Kawasaki is a longshot to make the team out of camp. Tommy La Stella appears to have that spot locked down as long as he’s healthy.
News and Notes
• Buster Olney is sticking to his pre-season prediction that the Cubs will win the NL Central, represent the Senior Circuit in the Fall Classic and beat the Royals in The Series.
• According to the Tribune, Jorge Soler’s mishaps in left field of little concern to Joe Maddon.
• Cubs have turned morning warm-ups into must-see event this spring according to ESPN Chicago.
• The Cubs will go full speed ahead with Kyle Schwarber according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
• Keith Law thinks Jake Lamb (Diamondbacks), Wil Myers (Padres), Rougned Odor (Rangers), C.J. Cron (Angels), Jonathan Schoop (Orioles), Aaron Hicks (Yankees), Robbie Ray (Diamondbacks), Joe Ross (Nationals) and Ketel Marte (Mariners) will have breakout seasons.
• Justin Masterson has a showcase schedule for 10am on Monday (March 28) at Phoenix Municipal for teams interested in the right-hander to prove he is healthy. Masterson is pain free according to Jon Heyman for the “first time in a few years.”
• The White Sox signed former Cubs’ right-hander Chris Volstad to a minor league contract.
• The Cardinals media just can’t stop talking about the Cubs.
• According to a report from The Score, a bill was introduced that if passed would make the Cardinals the official baseball team of the state of Missouri.
And last, but not least, Starlin Castro turns 26 years old today. Castro spoke with the USA Today about his time with the Cubs and his opportunity with the Yankees.
This Day in Cubstory
2014 – Cubs released Chang-Yong Lim
2012 – Cubs granted free agency to Andy Sonnanstine
2009 – Cubs released Erick Almonte
2002 – Cubs signed free agent Leo Estrella
2001 – Cubs released Randy Williams
2000 – Cubs released Chris Petersen
1990 – Starlin Castro, born
1983 – Chad Gaudin, born
1974 – Jamie Arnold, born
1970 – Cubs released Al Spangler
1968 – Cubs released Dick Radatz
1863 – Jim McCauley, born