By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — If you are weak of mind and selfish of heart, that behavior won’t be tolerated in the Cubs’ locker room in the final 56 regular-season games.
While player development is the focus during spring training and early on, only the best players for the ultimate mission are being chosen to play every day for the defending champion Cubs now.
Players should know by now that strategy takes precedence over everything else, manager Joe Maddon said, so no one should “throw a tantrum” or feel slighted if they get replaced during the course of a game.
“Please realize in this moment, somebody else may have a better skill set than you do in this particular situation,” Maddon said.
Maddon and his coaches have embraced unproven talent and emboldened them to play a leading role for the Cubs, but stars of May and June may find themselves sitting a little more the next two months, depending on the matchup that lies ahead.
“This is no time to be thin-skinned,” Maddon said. “You cannot be thin-skinned and win. You cannot.”
The win-at-all-cost idea isn’t unique to the Cubs’ situation.
“You may see us doing things a little differently now,” Maddon said. “You may see us use different patterns of players based on that thought. Winning teams get it. Guys who win as groups get it. Those that get it get it. They will not be concerned about that they got hit for or sitting out a game. None of all that crazy talk — that can only cause you a loss.”
Maddon speaks with the confidence of having great regular-season success and winning a championship in Chicago. His players can quietly disagree, but most of them know that this isn’t about a personal dislike or anger. For the Maddon doctrine, it’s all winning each night.
“As coaches, we help the players and teach all year,” bench coach Davey Martinez said. “We expect that those things we taught will help the guys know it’s winning time around here. We hope they succeed on the field, but if they are not playing, we expect them to be in the moment with their teammates.
“Our guys are always ready to be put in the big moment, even if they had sat on the bench for nine innings. They must react accordingly.”
For the Cubs, “In Joe, we trust” seems to be a winning phrase.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.