CHICAGO -- More work isn't what's needed, it's more rest. At least that's Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon's opinion as he dubbed it "American Legion Week" for his young team.
The idea is to basically show up and play instead of arriving at the ballpark hours and hours ahead of first pitch. With rain delays, long games -- as well as the heat and humidity of August -- Maddon thought it best to back off on the workload.
"There are things in this game I think are overrated and I think batting practice is one of them," Maddon bluntly stated Thursday afternoon. "I prefer a fresh mind and body right now."
The Atlanta Braves came in Wednesday night from the West Coast and also had a late arrival to the park Thursday.
"My team will show when Joe's team does," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez joked at about 4:30 p.m.
The "less is more" philosophy could be a trend around the league considering the awkward starting times teams have to deal with these days. Television and profits are responsible for a lot of that. Maddon has spoken often about the detriment to playing at so many different times like noon, 1:20, 3:05, 6:05 and 7:05 pm. They've also had the weird 5:05 start time, including a getaway game in Atlanta earlier this year.
"I'm not here to cry but when you constantly have different start times, just imagine you going into work at different times and how upsetting that would be to your schedule," Maddon said. "And your body clock is impacted by it. Sleep patterns are disrupted ... wife and kid patterns are disrupted."
There is a silver lining though. Maddon wants his players to get used to it now so come later in October it's not so out of the ordinary.
"When we get to the playoffs those are factors," he said. "The difference is in the playoffs you don't feel it as much, but in the regular season it can be a grind."
So no batting practice this week nor early arrival. A chalkboard in the clubhouse said: "Clubhouse closed until 3 p.m. No exceptions."
Maddon's biggest issue is with 3:05 p.m start times. The Cubs have them Fridays and Saturdays as they're highly profitable. The manager believes it's an in-between time to start a game.
"It's awkward," he stated. "I'm not going to deny it's awkward ... I don't have any influence on that right now. I haven't even tried to influence it."
If they keep winning, the manager might get what he wants. Right now he doesn't want to see his team much before game time.