(CBS) One of Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s challenges this season will be keeping a plethora of offensive weapons in a rhythm at the plate, even as everyday playing time won’t come for some because of a deep roster.
Monday’s season-opening 9-0 win for the Cubs against the Angels in their American League park allowed for Maddon to get fourth outfielder Jorge Soler a start as the designated hitter. That usually won’t be the case, so as he goes to fill out his lineup on any given day, Maddon stressed the importance of looking a week ahead to see when he can get his bench players a start.READ MORE: Shuttered By Pandemic Last Summer, Guthrie's Tavern In Wrigleyville Has New Owner And Will Be Reopening
In the mind of Maddon and management, getting regular at-bats for youngsters like Soler, Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez (when he’s off the DL) is crucial to their development.
“I have to work the four (games) against the Diamondbacks coming up,” Maddon said Tuesday on the Spiegel and Goff Show. “I just have to be a little more proactive regarding, probably a week’s worth in advance just to balance out playing time. You saw last night the great lineup, but one’s going to be out of there because the pitcher’s starting to hit when we get back to the National League and then, of course, you have to get at-bats for guys to keep them going. So there’s a little bit more creativity regarding that, but I really get a lot of help from my geeks back home (in the analytics department) and they send me some really good intel, and then I pore over it and try to make my best guess.
“That’s what we’re going to do. I’ve done it before. I used to run instructional leagues, and I’d always write a week’s worth of lineups in advance … I’ll probably do the same thing here.”READ MORE: Morgan Park Neighbors Say Woman Put Poison-Laced Hot Dogs On Lawn For Dogs To Eat; Alderman Says It's Not Legal, Even On Private Property
Part of the reason for starting Soler against the right-handed Garrett Richards in Monday’s opener instead of the lefty-swinging Tommy La Stella was because of the bigger philosophy.
“We need to take advantage of these DH at-bats for Jorge and Schwarber, because that’s part of the overarching plan regarding getting these guys enough plate appearances by the end of the season,” Maddon said.
Starting Schwarber at catcher once a week or so will help open up more at-bats for Soler, but it will stay take a lot of tinkering from Maddon to keep everyone in a rhythm when the team’s fully healthy.MORE NEWS: Chicago Heights Couple's SUV Was Stolen In Less Than A Minute With No Key Needed; Worry Mounts About Ease Of Theft For Dodge SRT Vehicles
Listen to Maddon’s full interview with Spiegel and Goff below. He also discusses ace Jake Arrieta’s mindset and the “easy” decision to pull him after seven innings in Monday’s opener, Kris Bryant’s revamped swing plane and much more.