Joe Maddon Speaks: Strop's Progress, Hitter Struggles, Bryant's Health, Russell's Leave

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Joe Maddon Speaks: Strop’s Progress, Hitter Struggles, Bryant’s Health, Russell’s Leave

Chicago Cubs News

Joe Maddon hopped on 670 The Score to speak with Bernstein & McKnight, getting into a range of topics as the Cubs are in the final week of the season, in a tight division race …

  • Pedro Strop, who would be the Cubs’ de facto closer if he were healthy, is not yet throwing off the mound, but remains optimistic about a return. There have been no setbacks, according to Maddon, which is good, because a setback on a hamstring injury at this point of the year would probably keep Strop out through the playoffs. Obviously it would be incredible if Strop could return for even just one appearance on Saturday or Sunday to show where he’s at in advance of the postseason, so you know what you can do with the roster.
  • As for Kris Bryant, Maddon reiterated that it’s just a matter of fatigue, given his previous shoulder injury. His timing is off just enough that he’s fouling off hittable pitches instead of driving them. Hopefully the timing clicks very soon, and then carries on through October.
  • On the hitting struggles for both Willson Contreras and David Bote lately, Maddon had similar thoughts: they’re chasing. I’ve definitely noticed it with Bote – which is something you’d expect as a young player faces league adjustments for the first time – but I haven’t seen it as much with Contreras. As we’ve discussed at length, instead, it just feels like Contreras is not squaring the ball up wherever it’s thrown (which, in fairness to Maddon, he thinks is part of the issue – Contreras is not swinging at the pitches he could really be crushing).
  • Maddon addressed Addison Russell being on administrative leave while MLB investigates specific domestic violence allegations from his ex-wife, both from a baseball perspective and (extremely disappointingly) from a non-baseball perspective:

  • Whether he could help “the situation” or not, Maddon is certainly in a position to send a message that we all need to listen. Maddon expanded when pressed why he wouldn’t at least read the account: “I’m not going to be swayed one way or another by reading this. I really have no interest in reading this. I’m more interested in waiting for the investigation to finalize itself, and then I’ll read what’s going and what had been said once it’s been vetted properly. Anybody can write anything they want these days with social media, blogging, etc. So I’m just going to wait for it to play its course, and then I’ll try to disseminate the information based on both sides, MLB itself, along with the players’ union and getting together with Addison and his former wife, and then I’ll read the information to try to form my own opinions at that point.” More from Maddon here.
  • I don’t agree with Maddon’s perspective there (Melisa’s story is the literal basis for the Cubs being without their shortstop right now, seems worth reading) but I do at least understand where he’s trying to put himself. I also get that Maddon values his relationships with his players, and I could even buy that he doesn’t want to expose himself to things that aren’t about baseball and aren’t explicitly about his job. And, obligatory: I’m sure there is a ton going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about. There always is. But these public answers could have been much, much better. These are serious, and facially credible, accusations at a time when many more women have finally summoned the collective courage to be heard. I think they have a right to be heard by everyone – in our corner of the world, it sends a message to female baseball fans in the process: this sport is for everyone.

[An aside about this topic/these comments/the last few years. Speak for yourself as a fan if you like, because I think we’re all entitled to do it – is this the message you want for “That’s Cub”? That is not a bait. It is a serious question about what the organization’s culture – and its fanbase – should be about. We’ve struggled with it for years now as we adjust to something of a very new world, but rarely is the identity question suffused with so much seriousness. I don’t know exactly how all these things should play out. I don’t know for sure what should “matter” and what shouldn’t in an objective capital-T Truth sense. I really don’t. I don’t even entirely know how I should feel as a fan. I just know Maddon’s answers today didn’t sound like what I think of as “That’s Cub.”]


Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.