Results tagged ‘ Joe Maddon ’

1/27 Maddon, Rizzo on MLB Network

Cubs manager Joe Maddon and first baseman Anthony Rizzo will be featured in “The Offseason: Hope in Chicago and Miami,” the third installment of MLB Network Presents on Tuesday at 8 p.m. CT.

The Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton also will be featured. Hosted by Bob Costas, the show offers exclusive profiles of three of the most talked-about names in Major League Baseball today as they face enormous expectations in the upcoming 2015 season.

The program begins with a behind-the-scenes look at Stanton’s daily life this offseason, following the signing of his record-setting $325 million contract with the Marlins in November 2014. Joined by MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, Stanton speaks in-depth about the traumatic injury that brought an early end to his 2014 season, and looks ahead to getting back on the field in 2015. Stanton also brings the cameras inside his rigorous workout routine as he goes through hitting drills and practice sessions in Southern California.

The episode continues with a trip to Chicago as Maddon brings MLB Network’s Tom Verducci inside his new life as the Cubs’ skipper at the annual Cubs Convention. Filmed last week in between interviews, autograph appearances, meetings and a coaches Q&A panel, Maddon discusses his decision-making process to leave the Rays and join the Cubs, and his methodology on managing. Maddon also addresses the heightened expectations in Chicago, including Rizzo’s recent comments about how the Cubs will win the NL Central division this season. Maddon’s response? “I totally agree with him that we can win the Central this year. No question in my mind.”

The hour-long show concludes with a look at the journey Rizzo has taken from battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2008 to becoming a first-time All-Star with the Cubs last season. Sitting down with MLB Network’s Lauren Shehadi at his home in Florida, Rizzo discusses the initial shock of being diagnosed with cancer and how he was able to persevere with the help of his family and the baseball community. Also included are interviews with Rizzo’s parents, John and Laurie, as well as Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who discusses Rizzo’s character and the relationship he has with the first baseman, which began when Epstein, then-GM of the Boston Red Sox, drafted Rizzo in the sixth round of the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

Cubs pitcher and cancer survivor Jon Lester and Rizzo also detail the bond they share, beginning with their first-ever conversation at Fenway Park shortly after Rizzo’s cancer diagnosis, and continuing up to today, when they became teammates after Lester signed with the Cubs as a free agent in December.

MLB Network Presents is a series of documentaries and access-driven profiles on some of baseball’s most prominent personalities that will air on Tuesdays throughout the offseason on MLB Network.

– Carrie Muskat

1/25 Maddon: “I want to see him smile”

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was in Puerto Rico this weekend to watch Javier Baez play in the championship series with Santurce. What was he looking for? Maddon told the young infielder he wanted to “see him smile.”

“My purpose is to see Javier Baez play,” Maddon told El Nuevo Dia on Saturday. “Being a new member of the Cubs organiation, being the manager and Javier being such a big part of our future, I thought it was important to come down and show support and start building that kind of relationship so he could trust me, also. From my perspective, the most important thing I have to do in Spring Training is earn the trust of all of our players.”

Baez, who batted .169 in 52 games with the Cubs last season, hitting nine home runs but also striking out 95 times in 213 at-bats, started playing for Santurce on Dec. 11. In the round robin playoffs, he did deliver a walk-off RBI single in the 10th on Jan. 12, but in the first two championship games, he was 0-for-9 with six strikeouts.

“He’s trying way too hard,” Maddon said. “I want him to back off. The last thing I want him to do is try to impress me tonight. … I said, ‘Hit a couple singles and above all, I want to see you smile.'”

On Saturday, Baez went 1-for-4 and scored a run in Santurce’s 6-0 win over Mayaguez. The best-of-seven series is now tied at 2-2, and Game 5 was scheduled for Sunday at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

Baez, 22, told El Nuevo Dia he was impressed that Maddon would come visit him in Puerto Rico. Maddon has talked to Santurce manager Eduardo Perez about Baez as well.

– Carrie Muskat

1/16 Cubs Convention underway

The Cubs new marketing slogan for the 2015 season is “Let’s Go,” and it was unveiled Friday at the opening ceremonies of the 30th convention. New manager Joe Maddon has heard the same message from fans while walking around Chicago this past week.

“The refrain that catches me, primarily, is male-oriented and guys talk about their dads and their grand pops a lot,” Maddon said. “It’s this unrequited situation where they’ve never had a World Series here in their lifetime. There’s a real passionate generational situation here.”

Maddon, who has strong ties to his family, said he could relate.

“I get it,” he said. “I understand where the fans are coming from and I understand the frustration, but more important, I understand the family component.”

The Cubs are coming off a last-place finish in the National League Central, and begin the 2015 season with plenty of optimism following the addition of Maddon and free agent pitcher Jon Lester, who both received loud ovations during opening festivities of the three-day fan fest at the Sheraton Hotel and Tower.

Maddon has spent the week in Chicago, watching video of the Cubs players, meeting with the Minor League coordinators, and talking to the analytics department. He’s been analyzing the pros and cons of batting a pitcher eighth, something he did during Interleague games with the Rays. He hasn’t been scribbling possible lineups down, preferring to see players in person first.

He’s heard how optimistic at least one of his players is. On Thursday, Anthony Rizzo promised the Cubs would win the NL Central this year. A lot of Rizzo’s enthusiasm is spurred by the addition of Lester, who signed a six-year, $155 million contract last month.

“I mean it’s obviously a bold statement,” Lester said. “I don’t think the end-all goal is the division. It’s nice to win the division, it’s always nice to be in the playoffs, but obviously the end-all goal for everybody, I would imagine, would be the World Series.

“By no way, shape or form am I predicting a World Series win, but that’s the goal, to get there,” Lester said. “You get there, you can figure it out and see what happens. … I stand behind my teammate and we’re going to go out there and hopefully that’s the first goal we’re going to try to make.”

– Carrie Muskat

1/9 Cubs Convention update

Weekend passes for the 30th annual Cubs Convention Jan. 16-18 and hotel packages at the event’s location, Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, are sold out, the team announced Friday. However, a limited number of room packages at the W Chicago Lakeshore Hotel with weekend passes are available. The packages at the W Hotel include passes at a discounted price of $20 per pass. For more information, fans should visit

The 2015 Cubs Convention will feature new manager Joe Maddon, his coaching staff, current players, including Jon Lester, alumni, Minor Leaguers, broadcasters and team executives. There will be more than 100 photo and autograph opportunities, enhanced activities and traditional favorites.

The list of confirmed players, coaches, alumni, team executives and broadcasters includes:

Major League Players:
Arismendy Alcantara, INF/OF
Jake Arrieta, RHP
Javier Baez, INF
Dallas Beeler, RHP
Welington Castillo, C
Starlin Castro, INF
Chris Coghlan, OF
Justin Grimm, RHP
Jason Hammel, RHP
Kyle Hendricks, RHP
Edwin Jackson, RHP
Eric Jokisch, LHP
Tommy La Stella, INF
Jon Lester, LHP
Rafael Lopez, C
Miguel Montero, C
Jason Motte, RHP
Mike Olt, INF
Blake Parker, RHP
Neil Ramirez, RHP
Anthony Rizzo, INF
Hector Rondon, RHP
Zac Rosscup, LHP
Brian Schlitter, RHP
Jorge Soler, OF
Dan Straily, RHP
Pedro Strop, RHP
Ryan Sweeney, OF
Matt Szczur, OF
Jacob Turner, RHP
Luis Valbuena, INF
Tsuyoshi Wada, LHP
Travis Wood, LHP

Minor League Players:
Albert Almora, OF
Kris Bryant, INF
C.J. Edwards, RHP
Pierce Johnson, RHP
Addison Russell, INF
Kyle Schwarber, C/OF

George Altman, INF/OF
Glenn Beckert, INF
Ryan Dempster, RHP
Bob Dernier, OF
Mark DeRosa, INF/OF
Leon Durham, INF/OF
Bob Howry, RHP
Randy Hundley, C
Fergie Jenkins, RHP
Jay Johnstone, OF
Jacque Jones, OF
Les Lancaster, RHP
Jon Lieber, RHP
Ted Lilly, LHP
Bill Madlock, INF
Gary Matthews, OF
Dave Otto, LHP, Broadcaster
Milt Pappas, RHP
Glendon Rusch, LHP
Lee Smith, RHP
Tim Stoddard, RHP
Rick Sutcliffe, RHP
Steve Trout, LHP
Billy Williams, OF
Kerry Wood, RHP

Coaching Staff:
Joe Maddon, Manager
Henry Blanco, Quality Assurance Coach
Mike Borzello, Catching Coach
Chris Bosio, Pitching Coach
Eric Hinske, Asst. Hitting Coach
Brandon Hyde, First Base Coach
Gary Jones, Third Base Coach
John Mallee, Hitting Coach
Dave Martinez, Bench Coach
Lester Strode, Bullpen Coach

Team Executives:
Tom Ricketts, Chairman
Laura Ricketts, Board Member
Todd Ricketts, Board Member
Theo Epstein, President, Baseball Operations
Crane Kenney, President, Business Operations

Baseball Staff/Broadcasters:
Jed Hoyer, GM
Jason McLeod, SVP, Scouting & Player Development
Randy Bush, Assistant GM
Shiraz Rehman, Assistant GM
Pat Hughes, Radio Broadcaster
Ron Coomer, Radio Broadcaster, INF (2001)
Len Kasper, TV Broadcaster
Jim Deshaies, TV Broadcaster

Special Guest:
Clark, Team Mascot

1/7 Dave Martinez’s homecoming

Dave Martinez had hoped to be a big league manager in 2015 and take over the Rays. Instead, he’ll celebrate a homecoming as Martinez returns to the Cubs and Wrigley Field, where he made his Major League debut back in 1986.

Martinez was Maddon’s bench coach for seven seasons in Tampa Bay, and that relationship will continue with the Cubs. Martinez does have an edge over Maddon. The Cubs’ third-round pick in 1983, Martinez played four seasons with the team (1986-88, 2000) and knows Wrigley Field’s quirks. Maddon got his first look inside the Cubs’ ballpark during an Interleague series last June.

“I told him on the bus, ‘You’re really going to appreciate baseball once you see Wrigley,'” Martinez said by phone Wednesday. “After the first game, on the way back to the hotel, he looked at me and said, ‘That was impressive.'”

Maddon isn’t used to playing so many home day games and has said he’ll rely on Martinez, 50, for advice.

“One thing [Maddon] likes is to make sure is the guys get plenty of rest,” Martinez said. “He’d rather see quality not quantity, and we’ve been really good at that [with the Rays].”

When Maddon left Tampa Bay, Martinez interviewed for the opening. But Kevin Cash got the job, and Martinez resigned in late November.

“It was definitely disappointing,” Martinez said. “I felt like I was groomed for the job and I knew everything. I knew what needed to happen moving forward. They decided they wanted a totally different voice and a different face. That being said, I thought it would be best for me and my family to do something else and go somewhere else. I have no ill feelings about anything — we had a great run and I met some unbelievable people and a lot of those guys are like family to me. Moving forward, I’m a Chicago Cub and I know this will be a blessing for me and my family. Hopefully we bring a championship to Wrigley.”

Martinez predicted Maddon will make it very interesting with the Cubs. Could there be a blues band in the clubhouse? Who knows?

“Spring training is going to be a lot different than you’ve ever seen,” Martinez said. “We want guys to wake up and say, ‘Hey, I can’t wait to get to the ballpark.'”

Martinez has been watching video to familiarize himself with the players. Now a father of four, he’s eager to get back to Chicago.

“It’s really like me coming to my second home,” Martinez said.

– Carrie Muskat

1/4 Cubs Convention, Jan. 16-18

You could meet new manager Joe Maddon at the 30th Cubs Convention, which will be held Jan. 16-18 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. There will be more than 100 photo and autograph opportunities, an updated event layout, enhanced activities, and some convention favorites.

Opening ceremonies begin Jan. 16 at 6 p.m. CT and will feature player introductions. There will be a special show with Ryan Dempster that night featuring interviews with Cubs players and coaches, comedy vignettes and interactive games.

On Jan. 17, the program will include Cubs Family Feud, Cubs Jeopardy, a session with Maddon and his coaching staff. There also will be a “Meet the New Cubs” session, a For Kids Only Press Conference, and a Cubs Business Operations update on the 1060 Project restoration. The evening concludes with long-time Convention favorite, Cubs Bingo, featuring more tables than ever before.

Additional weekend sessions (subject to change) include: The Ricketts Family Forum; A Recent Look Back: 2007-08 Cubs; 30 Years of Cubs Convention Memories; Meet Cubs Baseball Management; Down on the Farm; and #CubsSocial.

A percentage of the proceeds from Cubs Convention benefits Cubs Charities. To date, the Cubs Convention has raised about $4 million for Cubs Charities.

Go to for information on purchasing convention passes.

12/13 Lester to be introduced Monday

The Cubs will formally introduce Jon Lester on Monday, and they can thank Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija for helping sell the left-hander on coming to Chicago. Lester agreed to a six-year, $155 million contract last Tuesday, but needed to pass a physical to make it official. He did that, and will show off his new Cubs jersey for the first time Monday at Spiaggia restaurant in downtown Chicago.

Lester, Hammel and Samardzija were teammates for two months on the Athletics. The Cubs had sent Hammel and Samardzija to Oakland in a July 4 package, while the Red Sox dealt Lester and Jonny Gomes to the A’s on July 31 for Yoenis Cespedes.

Hammel, 32, formally introduced on Friday after signing a two-year contract to return to the Cubs, said Lester was curious about Chicago. Lester, who turns 31 in January, knew Theo Epstein; the two were together in Boston.

“I think the Theo-Jon bromance was going to happen anyways,” Hammel said. “But [Lester] was definitely interested, and he was picking our brains all the time.”

The addition of Lester certainly gives the Cubs rotation an ace. A two-time World Series champion, Lester now leads a staff that includes Hammel, Jake Arrieta, Travis Wood, Kyle Hendricks, Tsuyoshi Wada, and Felix Doubront.

“You see a lot of things going on right now,” Hammel said of the Cubs. “It’s not just shtick. It’s not just flash. They’re making a commitment to winning here. It’s important that it’s not, ‘We’re just trying to surprise people.’ This is a commitment to winning.”

– Carrie Muskat

12/9 Maddon: We won the baseball lottery

As far as Joe Maddon is concerned, the Cubs won the lottery by getting Jon Lester. The next step is to win the World Series.

Late Tuesday, Lester picked the Cubs over his former team, the Red Sox, and agreed to a six-year, $155 million contract, the largest in franchise history.’s Ken Rosenthal was first to report the deal. The Cubs would not confirm it, but Maddon did, holding court in the lobby of the Manchester Grand Hyatt after dinner in downtown San Diego.

“This definitely propels us into Plan A, which is kind of neat,” said Maddon, who received a text message from Theo Epstein with the news. “It’s a big day for us, moving forward. It really brings a lot of different factors together. It’s very exciting.”

Maddon was eager to hear why Lester picked the Cubs.

“It would have a lot to do with the familiarity with Theo and the guys who were there [in Boston],” Maddon said. “I think he sees the potential with the group and the direction we’re headed. I want to believe that had a lot to do with it, and I’m curious to see what he says.”

Epstein, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and Lester all won a World Series in Boston. Could they do that with the Cubs?

“It definitely makes it more believable to everybody else in that room,” Maddon said of the Cubs players. “I’ll stand up and make the same speech regardless but when you have it backed up by that particular kind of presence, it adds to it. I can’t deny any of that. Having people like that in the room definitely helps other guys believe this is possible.”

If Lester and the Cubs were to win a World Series, which would be the franchise’s first since 1908, then the left-hander would be the first pitcher with championship rings from both the Cubs and Red Sox. Think about that for a moment. Lester probably did, Maddon said.

“He’s been there before, he understands what it feels like,” Maddon said. “I want to believe he could foresee the same thing happening here. From my perspective it’s exciting to be involved in this moment.”

For Maddon, it’s quite a change after being on the outside looking in as the Yankees and Red Sox were big spenders in the East and he was trying to win with the Rays.

“It’s different,” Maddon said. “I have not been on this side since my days with the Angels when I got an email in Italy that we had signed Vladimir Guerrero. … That’s the last time I was involved in this kind of a moment.”

And the last time he was this excited?

“Let’s see, [it’s when] my grandson was born,” he said. “Giuseppe was born about a year and a half ago. That was the last time.”

Epstein’s only long-term deal since he took over the Cubs was a four-year, $52 million contract he gave Edwin Jackson. Lester’s puts him in the upper echelon regarding pitcher salaries, second only to Clayton Kershaw in terms of average annual value.

“It’s not often you get to win the lottery,” Maddon said. “We won the baseball lottery so far this year. Now it’s up to us to put it into effect. It’s all theory right now and we have to make it real. You need pieces like this to make it real.”

– Carrie Muskat

12/9 Maddon on Lester talks: “I hope we win it”

What’s Joe Maddon’s take on the Jon Lester sweepstakes?

“I hope we win it,” Maddon said Tuesday.

Speaking to the media at the Winter Meetings, Maddon said he had a phone conversation with Lester in November, part of the Cubs recruiting process. They discussed hunting, the AL East, past games, and how much respect Maddon has for the left-hander.

“I always admired his work from a distance,” Maddon said. “This is a guy who, when the game was really big, he was always at his best. To possibly get this opportunity to work with him for the first time is very exciting. I honest to God don’t know where this is at right now.”

Maddon does acknowledge that it will be tough for Lester to leave Boston.

“Having been with the Red Sox his whole career and all the wonderful success he’s had there, you would think it would be a difficult situation,” Maddon said. “I can’t speak for that, personally. As an opponent, this guy was always at his best when it seemed to matter most. You want to get to him early because if you permit him to settle, he’s definitely going to be there in the seventh or eighth innings.

“You can’t have any respect for a Major League baseball player than we do for him right now. For us to be able to pull this off would be pretty outstanding.”

Did Maddon have any idea as to how long it will be before Lester makes a decision?

“I’m sure it’s not going to be much longer,” Maddon said. “I really have no information or knowledge about that. You just wait for the white smoke.”

– Carrie Muskat

11/25 Dave Martinez rumors

Could Dave Martinez join Joe Maddon on the Cubs staff? According to’s Ken Rosenthal, the Rays will not stand in Martinez’s way if the Cubs or another team requests to interview him for a coaching job. Martinez is under contract with the Rays through next season. Martinez was a candidate for the Rays managerial opening but was told last Friday that he was not one of the final three candidates.


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