Results tagged ‘ Joe Maddon ’

2/28 Taking notes

Jon Lester hasn’t had a problem adjusting to the dry Arizona weather and feels the same way about throwing to different catchers. However, the Cubs pitcher did notice manager Joe Maddon talking to himself. Maddon apparently uses a digital recorder on the field to take verbal notes during practice.

“We were running a bunt play and obviously, he either had an idea or saw something he didn’t like or liked, and wanted to take a note down,” Lester said, noting it’s tough for the manager to keep pen and paper in his pocket.

“It’s easier than writing it down,” said Maddon, who started using the recorder in instructional league. “It’s nice at the end of the day, you go back and play it back and things that you would’ve forgotten, you don’t forget now.”

More important is the tone Maddon has set in Cubs camp.

“I just like how positive he is,” Lester said. “Whether you screw up a play, he’ll find the positive light in it. He lets us be players, he lets us be who we are. That’s his reputation, that’s what I’ve heard from other guys. I think that brings out the best.

“This game is so hard on younger guys,” Lester said. “It’s so result driven and everybody wants to make the team the first day and I think Joe takes pressure off those guys by saying the things he says. He’s genuinely sincere about what he says. There’s no [nonsense]. You can tell he means everything he says — whether it’s, ‘You [stink] today’ or ‘You’re good today.'”

– Carrie Muskat

2/27 Friday notebook

* How happy was Javier Baez to see Manny Ramirez in Cubs camp?

“I grabbed Manny’s stuff and put everything in my locker and told him he was going to be here with me,” Baez said Friday. “The next day, he moved all his stuff back.”

Friday was Day 2 for Ramirez, who has been hired as a hitting consultant and was to work with both the Major League and Minor League players. Baez and Ramirez got to know each other last year at Triple-A Iowa when Ramirez signed as a player/coach.

What did Baez learn from Ramirez?

“The way they will pitch to you, the way they know how to pitch to you, and they know you have to make that adjustment,” Baez said.

The Cubs are trying to get Baez to shorten his swing to lower his strikeout numbers and have him experimenting with lowering his hands. He dropped more than 15 pounds this offseason and fortunately hasn’t noticed a difference in batting practice.

“I haven’t lost any power,” he said. “I’m driving the ball everywhere. I haven’t seen any difference.”

* C.J. Edwards needs to find a nail salon fast. He had a bandage on his right index finger Friday.

“What I heard was he had a nail problem,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We have to send him to a manicurist. I think his nail was too long and they have to trim his nails up.”

* Zac Rosscup took a ball off his right wrist during his live BP session Friday. It’s a good thing Rosscup is left-handed. Jorge Soler was the batter, and he and one of the athletic trainers checked on Rosscup, who was able to finish his session. Maddon said the reliever was fine.

* The Cubs were not expected to play an intrasquad game prior to the start of Cactus League games on March 5. The Cubs begin their Spring Training schedule with split squad games, playing host to the Athletics and also sending a squad to Scottsdale to face the Giants.

* Jason Hammel and Travis Wood are among the Cubs pitchers scheduled to throw live batting practice on Saturday. Others on the schedule include Tsuyoshi Wada, who was slowed for a couple days because of a tight left hamstring, plus Dallas Beeler, Justin Grimm, Hunter Cervenka, Armando Rivero and Jorge De Leon.

– Carrie Muskat

2/26 Maddon’s message: Respect 90

Ernie Banks used to come up with a saying every year for the Cubs. This season, manager Joe Maddon’s message has been painted along the first base line of Field 1 at the Cubs complex: Respect 90.

Last Dec. 3, Maddon posted it on his Twitter account @CubsJoeMadd: “Respect 90 … going to make daily push for our players to respect that distance .. run hard for 90 feet, and the respect will come back to you.” It’s also on his Twitter profile. And the Cubs players will see it on other fields as well. It’s something he wants ingrained in their minds.

“It really is the message I want to get out there,” Maddon said. “I believe if we respect that 90 feet every day, a lot of good things are going to happen here.”

Maddon had not used “Respect 90″ while with the Rays but would have done so this year if he had stayed. He’s had other sayings in Tampa Bay, such as “nine equals eight.”

“I guess Mr. Banks used to do it also,” Maddon said. “This was more of an organic moment. I thought of it one day and said, ‘God, I really like that.'”

– Carrie Muskat

2/26 Extra bases

* Javier Baez, Mike Olt and Jorge Soler will be the first to take some swings against new Cubs pitcher Jon Lester, who was scheduled to throw his first live batting practice session on Friday. Lester, Hector Rondon, Zac Rosscup, Brian Schlitter, Pedro Strop, Drake Britton, Corey Black, and Pierce Johnson are scheduled for live batting practice.

Manager Joe Maddon is still in the early phases of evaluating the roster this spring.

“I don’t really read into too many things,” he said. “I’m just watching.”

* Former Cubs outfielder Dave Martinez was the only coach Maddon was able to add to his staff, and having the familiarity has helped. Martinez was Maddon’s bench coach with the Rays for seven seasons.

“It’s very fortunate that we did [add Martinez] and it’s even more obvious to me now,” Maddon said. “People talked about it, and you need to bring somebody with you. Davey is the perfect fit and it really helps me daily because he brings a lot of the message to the guys.”

Of course, when Martinez played for the Cubs, they held Spring Training at Fitch Park. Still, the uniform hasn’t changed much or the fans.

“He feels like he’s home a little bit, too,” Maddon said.

* Maddon was pleased with the energy and execution during bunt drills Thursday.

“I told the boys afterword, ‘That’s pro, and if we can do that 99 percent of the time, we’ll be OK,'” he said.

* How does Maddon relax at the end of the day? He’s been catching up on some television shows, such as “The Office” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

“I’d rather go to sleep watching something funny than something way too serious,” he said. “I prefer a comedy to go to sleep with and [‘The Office’] is my favorite.”

– Carrie Muskat

2/25 Cubs off and running on first day

The music was loud Wednesday for the Cubs’ first full squad workout, and included “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen. It was time to get to work under new manager Joe Maddon.

“I’ve always liked music during batting practice,” Maddon said. “When you go to complex baseball and you’re out in the middle of nowhere and it gets really quiet, crickets and all that kind of stuff, I like when it’s really loud.”

Maddon picked the tunes for Wednesday. He hinted that others might get a chance.

“I think the first thing out of the chute in the morning, get the blood flow going, and it seems to have helped,” Maddon said. “I was told the speaker system was really good in the complex and they’re right.”

Maddon noted a good energy on the first day, which included Jake Arrieta, Jason Motte, Edwin Jackson, Justin Grimm, Felix Doubront and Jacob Turner throwing live batting practice.

* What did Maddon want the players to remember from his first workout speech?

“The one thing, more than anything, is that I want them to be themselves,” he said. “I don’t want them to feel inhibited when they play. I don’t want them to feel as though they’re out there to please. Don’t worry about making mistakes — you’re going to make mistakes, physical mistakes. We want to cut down on the mental mistakes.”

* Tommy La Stella took grounders at third base along with Mike Olt. La Stella has never played third in professional baseball but was told when he signed with the Cubs that he may get a chance there. Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez took grounders at second.

* Maddon said players can expect some different drills this spring. He likes to have hitters use heavier bats, say 35-36 ounces and 34-35 inches long to help promote the utilization of their hands. Maddon also complimented outfield coach Doug Dascenzo on his drills, saying they reminded him of what he saw with former coach Sam Suplizio, who passed away in 2006.

* C.J. Edwards, Blake Parker, Anthony Carter, Donn Roach, Neil Ramirez, Joseph Ortiz, Francisley Bueno and Germen Gonzalez were scheduled to throw live batting practice on Thursday.

– Carrie Muskat

2/25 Morning Joe


New Cubs manager Joe Maddon chats with fans during the first team workout Wednesday in Mesa, Ariz.

2/25 Time to go to work

The Cubs will hold their first full squad workout on Wednesday, which means the first live batting practice for some of the hitters. Pitchers scheduled to throw live BP include Jake Arrieta, Edwin Jackson, Jacob Turner, Felix Doubront, Kyle Hendricks, Eric Jokisch, Justin Grimm and Jason Motte. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and manager Joe Maddon will both meet with the players, although in separate meetings.

– Carrie Muskat

2/23 Maddon: Bryant “gets it”

Kris Bryant had his one-on-one meeting with Joe Maddon Monday, and, no, the Cubs top prospect did not tell the manager that he belonged on the Opening Day roster. Bryant, 23, is confident, but knows he has to show Maddon and the Cubs he’s ready.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the big leagues,” Bryant said Monday. “I feel I’m pretty close now. I’m going to use this Spring Training as a way to go out there and get better in those areas.”

The Minor League player of the year last season after batting .325, hitting 43 home runs and driving in 110 at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, Bryant first met Maddon in December during the Winter Meetings.

“He’s a guy I want to play for — I sure hope I get the chance this year,” Bryant said.

Cubs fans hope so, too. They can be assured that Bryant didn’t bring all his trophies to Mesa. He left them at home and has moved on.

“I know I have a lot to prove on the field and those [rankings] are just opinions I can’t control,” he said. “The only expectations I have to live up to are the ones I have on my own and I can assure you mine are greater than anybody’s out there.”

Maddon’s first impressions of the Cubs top prospect?

“That he gets it,” Maddon said. “Of course, he’s talented, great body, great power, wonderful arm, good third baseman, good outfield. He’s a lot of good things and he gets it. I think he understands the work involved necessary to be great. He’s rather humble for me. He’s not outgoing in a sense in a negative way. He knows he’s good. There’s also a humility about him, too.”

Maddon said Bryant could see some playing time in outfield this spring but will likely focus on third.

“Long term, Kris would be a nice long term solution,” Maddon said. “Is he ready right now? I don’t know. I’ve never seen the guy on the field. There’s other really good candidates who can play there, probably not to the level he can. At the conclusion of this camp, what’s the right thing to do then? That’s what we have to decide.”

– Carrie Muskat

2/22 Three catchers? No problem

All David Ross has asked of his new Cubs teammates so far is to guide him so he go to the wrong field for drills. Ross may not know his way around the Cubs complex but he can definitely handle a pitching staff. And so can the Cubs other two catchers.

“From the other dugout, I’ve always known the benefits that [Ross] brought to a team,” manager Joe Maddon said Sunday, “and then you get to converse with him and be with him, and it’s true. He’s just a different man.”

What Maddon likes is how much Ross understands the game. And they’ve only been together three days. Ross is still getting to know everyone.

“I’ve introduced myself to some guys three or four times,” Ross said Sunday.

He wasn’t signed to a two-year deal simply to keep Jon Lester happy. The Cubs like Ross’s experience and leadership, and Theo Epstein sold the catcher on what they’re trying to do in Chicago.

“I think this is one of the places to be in Major League Baseball,” Ross said. “Joe said it the other day, this is the spot to be. I believe that, too, whether Jon Lester is here or not. These guys came in to play [the Red Sox] last year, and kicked our tail. I saw it first hand, and faced Jake Arrieta. He was the best pitcher I faced last year all year with my limited at-bats. He was a true top of the rotation starter.”

The Cubs not only have Ross but veteran Miguel Montero and Welington Castillo, who has been the starter the last two seasons. Maddon is high on the trio.

“You get three catchers like that in the same area code, that’s pretty good,” Maddon said.

The Cubs have had three top catchers on a roster before. In 1991, Joe Girardi, Damon Berryhill and Rick Wilkins were together on the team.

While Ross, who turns 38 next month, will likely be matched up with Lester as he was in Boston, Maddon will talk to Montero, 31, about how many games he wants to catch. The manager already knows the answer will be as many as possible.

– Carrie Muskat

2/22 Extra bases

* Joe Maddon wants the Cubs to play just as hard in March as in June, July or August, and hopefully, in October. That will be part of his message Wednesday when he addresses the full squad.

“I do like to win in Spring Training,” Maddon said Sunday. “I think my message to the group when they show up in a couple days is I want them to play the game whether it’s March 15 or July 15 or Oct. 15. When you build that mindset, and you get to the end of the season and the playoff situation, you don’t change your game. I think that’s the trap that a lot of groups fall into — that I have to try harder or I have to do more or I have to step up. I really don’t like the phrase ‘step up’ at all. That insinuates that you have not been trying before that.”

The Cubs open Cactus League play on March 5 with split squad games, and Maddon will expect to see good effort then.

“If we can build the thought process of where you come to play every day, regardless of the date, don’t apply any more weight to any game, by the time we get to the playoffs the game feels the same and I don’t think you’re going to be intimidated by that moment in any way shape or form,” he said. “That’s how I approach it.”

* Tsuyoshi Wada is the only pitcher being held out of drills. The left-hander has some tightness in his hamstring. All the other pitchers who threw on Friday had their second side sessions on Sunday.

* The Cubs will be careful with Jorge Soler this spring to avoid any leg injuries, which slowed the outfielder last year. The plan is to not keep him on his feet too long or push him too hard, Maddon said.

– Carrie Muskat


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