#Cubs notes: Where will Russell hit?

Cubs manager Joe Maddon says he’s evaluating whether he’ll have the pitcher bat eighth in the lineup or return to the more traditional No. 9 spot. The key is Addison Russell, who Maddon calls “a different animal” this year.

“Part of the theory last year was if you think a guy is going to pitch deep into the game, you hit him ninth. If you don’t think he would, you hit him eighth so you can hit for him sooner,” Maddon said Wednesday. “It’s a possibility — season in progress — if I think that’s starting to pop up, I might throw that back in there for that reason. Again, if I’m just seeing a guy that needs to be better protected in a way, I might do that also.”

*On the injury front, outfielder Shane Victorino (tight right calf) is expected to play by this weekend. Matt Szczur (oblique) is progressing and Tommy La Stella (strained left calf) is taking ground balls. Maddon said the Cubs are “just being cautious” with the players.

*The Cubs have hit 22 home runs, second-most among Cactus League teams, and trail only the White Sox, who have 26 homers so far.

*The Cubs are averaging 14,789 fans at Sloan Park in Mesa this season.

*Pitching probables:

Thursday vs D-Backs at Sloan Park
RHP Jason Hammel vs. RHP Archie Bradley, 4:05 p.m. AZ time (Cubs.com/ESPN)

Friday at White Sox in Glendale
RHP Kyle Hendricks vs TBD, 1:05 p.m. AZ time

Saturday at Indians in Goodyear (7:05 p.m. AZ time)
RHP Pierce Johnson vs. RHP Corey Kluber



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