(CBS) As of Monday, the Cubs were carrying 29 players on their expanded September roster, with the intention of adding another before Tuesday evening’s game by activating setup man Hector Rondon.
When the Cubs open up the playoffs on Oct. 7, that number will have to be reduced to the usual 25 players. The final weeks of the regular season will be marked by the reserves fighting for those precious spots while Cubs manager Joe Maddon and his front office debate which 25 give them the best chance to win.
While there remain some uncertainties, Maddon is sure of this much: He has to take a direct approach with every player as the Cubs settle on their 25-man postseason roster and pitching rotation.
“You just have to be honest with them whenever you make your decision,” Maddon said Tuesday on the Spiegel and Goff Show. “Professional baseball players, if they disagree with you, at least if you’re being honest with them, they can deal with it and everything can move on rather quickly. But if you’re disingenuous or dishonest with them and make up a bunch of excuses for why you want to do something, they see right through you. And that’s not good. That’s the kind of moment that lingers. Whatever we decide as we continue to move along, after we talk together as a group and we make our decision and we approach the guys, there are tough conversations. It’s something that I’ve talked about with Theo (Epstein) even before taking this job, you can’t be afraid to have the tough conversations. So we have a bunch of coaches like that, we have a front office like that. It matters. At the end of the day, man, just tell them the truth and the players can handle it.”
Catch Miguel Montero and outfielder Chris Coghlan are two of the Cubs on the fringe in the fight to make the postseason roster, and each one contributed in Monday’s win at Milwaukee. Montero’s play in particular stuck out in Maddon’s mind, as he went 2-of-3 and worked well with right-hander Kyle Hendricks.
“We’ll just wait until everything’s clinched and finalized and you move forward and you try to make your plans and try to figure out who you’re going to play against and who the best matchup is against those particular teams,” Maddon said. “But they’re (the Cubs players) all looking good right now. Miggy’s catching again today. Miggy looked outstanding yesterday. Everything’s coming back to life, he made a nice throw … His bat’s coming to life. He hit a fly ball to left-center yesterday that had a chance. At home, he had some really good hacks (recently).
“So it’s just trying to get him back on his feet and acclimated to the game and catching everybody. Because you never know what’s going to happen, man. There’s games to be played, things can change very rapidly. And I think Miggy’s looking really good right now.”
Listen to Maddon’s full interview below.