#Cubs notes: Baez, Zo, Rondon, bulls & birds

*Javier Baez was given Thursday off to nurse a swollen left thumb he injured sliding head first into a base on Wednesday. Baez broke a finger last year because of a head-first slide and missed one month. Maybe he should consider going feet first?

“In the heat of the moment, you do that,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of head-first slides. “You’re always better to run through the bag at first base. … You encourage foot-first sliding because it bothers the defender.”

*Ben Zobrist was sidelined Thursday with an ingrown toenail. He is day to day, or step by step.

*Hector Rondon has given up eight earned runs on 10 hits in his last 1 2/3 innings over two outings, which isn’t exactly what a team wants its closer to do. Maddon isn’t concerned.

“Honestly, and I’m not going to make any excuse for him, but the ninth inning in Surprise and the ninth inning at HoHoKam [Stadium in Cactus League games] — this guy is used to an adrenaline rush,” Maddon said. “From where I’m standing, I think the stuff looks really good. He’s probably not commanding it where he wants and maybe too much middle plate.

“As long as he tells me he’s healthy, and he is, and he feels good about himself, that’s all I’m concerned about,” Maddon said. “I really mean that. I also think he started a little later than the hitters started this camp. I honestly have zero concern. I know he’s healthy.”

*Adam Warren and Trevor Cahill each threw three innings in a “B” game against the Rockies early Thursday. Warren struck out six, and Cahill fanned five.

*Regarding children in the clubhouse, Maddon said the players will decide the Cubs’ policy when they meet Sunday with the manager. It’ll be a meeting of selected veteran players — who Maddon has dubbed the “lead bulls” — and they will establish the ground rules. Maddon noted he’s looking into getting a pet bird, possibly a cockatoo or a parrot. He would like a “social” bird, too.

— Carrie Muskat

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