MESA, Ariz. -- While Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon says he won’t necessarily make personnel decisions based solely on Cactus League games, it doesn’t mean those contests won’t matter starting next month.
“I do like to win in spring training,” Maddon said Sunday after Day 3 of workouts for pitchers and catchers. “My message to the group when they show up (Wednesday) is I really want us to play the game the same whether it’s March 15 or July 15 or October 15. When you build that mindset, when it gets to the end of the season in a playoff situation, you don’t change your game. I think that’s the trap groups fall into. ‘I have to try harder or I have to do more. I have to step up.’ I really do not like the phrase ‘step up.’ That insinuates you haven’t been trying prior to that.”
The Cubs will play 31 Cactus League games beginning on March 5.
Wada slowed: Maddon revealed that lefty Tsuyoshi Wada has a hamstring injury preventing him from throwing right now, but the ailment isn’t serious.
“Wada has a little bit of a lower body issue,” Maddon said using a hockey phrase. “I really like hockey. Hockey really has it down.”
Full speed for Soler, eventually: The Cubs don’t plan on any limitations for Jorge Soler once they get deeper into the spring.
“Don’t beat him up early,” Maddon said. “Permit him to get his legs underneath him.”
Soler has missed time on the field because of leg/hamstring issues in the past but the Cubs believe they found the right formula to keep him healthy, as he was for the second half of last season.
Maddon-isms: Already, Maddon has entertained in just a few days of meeting the media. Here are a few of his better quotes from the first weekend of spring training.
“I use the term ‘force multiplier.’ The people in the group that make them better. He absolutely fits into that category. –- on reliever Jason Motte, from theories taken from a Colin Powell book.
“A good backup quarterback is very, very important. It’s magnified with him. He’s just a different cat.” –- on backup catcher David Ross
“I’m still learning names and numbers and hairstyles. We have some great hair on this team. We have really good hair.”
“He uses adverbs when he speaks. Not many people use adverbs all the time. He’s really an interesting cat. Physically he’s not imposing but he’s a baseball player.” –- on catcher Miguel Montero
"I do not like baseball playoffs starting and I'm in the backyard cooking steaks.”
"I don’t know if I've met a more sincere player. He's all about winning. Period.” –- on Jon Lester
“I wish I could grow one. If I could grow a beard I’d grow a beard. I’m very bad at facial hair.” –- on allowing facial hair for his players.