Cubs

Coghlan: Cubs feel like they're going to win every game now

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Coghlan: Cubs feel like they're going to win every game now

The Cubs are now 12-0 when Chris Coghlan hits in the No. 3 spot in the batting order.

How's that for a stat?

Coghlan drove in four runs on two homers Friday as the Cubs outlasted the White Sox 6-5 in front of 36,386 fans at U.S. Cellular Field.

[MORE: Chase Utley? GM Jed Hoyer says Cubs aren’t close to any deals yet]

After striking out in the first inning, Coghlan hit a three-run shot in the third and added a solo homer in the fifth as the Cubs hung on for their eighth straight victory and 14th win in the last 15 games.

"We feel like we're going to win every game," Coghlan said. "I think that's the reason why we're winning a lot of them. You can say: 'I hope we win a game.'

"But to actually believe it and be convicted in it is totally different than just saying: 'Yeah, I hope we go win today.'"

Coghlan had entered the game with only a .447 OPS in the three-hole and had struggled over the course of this current winning streak.

In the seven games before Friday, Coghlan was just 4-for-22 (.182 average) with a walk, an RBI and a run scored while getting used to a new position at second base.

Does it make the win extra special now that he's contributing?

"I probably wouldn't use the word 'extra' but it definitely makes it better," Coghlan said. "I feel like we've been winning a lot and I really haven't been able to contribute a lot in the stat column.

"I've been able to do other things to help the team, whether it's defense or baserunning or whatever. But anytime you can put some crooked numbers up individually and help the team, it's always gratifying."

Anthony Rizzo also homered (going back-to-back with Coghlan in the fifth) as the Cubs have shown the power the last two games (eight homers).

Kyle Schwarber got the Cubs started with a first-inning sacrifice fly after Dexter Fowler tripled as the North Siders did all their damage against former Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up for the stretch run, Cubs fans]

Samardzija somehow made it through six innings despite allowing six runs on nine hits and a pair of walks.

Kyle Hendricks got the start for the Cubs, but struggled as well, surrendering five runs on eight hits and three walks in only 3 1/3 innings.

"Kyle couldn't get it going," Maddon said. "Nothing was working. I could see it early on with the command as badly as it was."

Hendricks said the issue is mechanical and he's been dealing with it on and off all year, but especially his last couple times out.

But Hendricks also made sure to give credit to former Sox pitcher Clayton Richard, who came into the game in the fourth inning and helped bridge the gap to Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon with two shutout innings.

"Clayton was huge in today's game," Maddon said. "We hit the home runs, we had some really good at-bats. Of course, CC had a really nice day.

"But what Clayton did coming in, he really defined the game at that point."

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

MESA, Ariz. — “That’s last year, don’t want to talk about that.”

In other words, Addison Russell is so over 2017.

The Cubs shortstop went through a lot last year. He dealt with injuries that affected his foot and shoulder. He had a well-documented off-the-field issue involving an accusation of domestic abuse, which sparked an investigation by Major League Baseball. And then came the trade speculation.

The hot stove season rarely leaves any player completely out of online trade discussion. But after Theo Epstein admitted there was a possibility the Cubs could trade away one or more young position players to bolster the starting rotation, well, Russell’s name came up.

And he saw it.

“There was a lot of trade talk,” Russell said Saturday. “My initial thoughts were, I hope it doesn’t happen, but wherever I go, I’m going to try to bring what I bring to the table here. It’s a good thing that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m happy being in a Cubs uniform, I want to be in a Cubs uniform, for sure. But there was some talk out there. If I got traded, then I got traded, but that’s not the case.”

No, it’s not, as the Cubs solved those pitching questions with free-agent spending, bringing in Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood to replace the departed Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. It means Russell, along with oft-discussed names like Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Javy Baez, are all still Cubs.

While the outside world might have expected one of those guys to be moved in some sort of blockbuster trade for Chris Archer or some other All-Star arm, the Cubs’ young core remains intact, another reason why they’re as much a favorite to win the World Series as any team out there.

“I’m really not surprised. The core is still here. Who would want to break that up? It’s a beautiful thing,” Russell said. “Javy and I in the middle. Schwarber, sometimes playing catcher but mainly outfield. And then (Kris Bryant) over there in the hot corner, and of course (Anthony) Rizzo at first. You’ve got a Gold Glover in right field (Jason Heyward). It’s really hard to break that up.

“When you do break that down on paper, we’ve got a lineup that could stack up with the best.”

This winter has been about moving on for Russell, who said he’s spent months working to strengthen his foot and shoulder after they limited him to 110 games last season, the fewest he played in his first three big league campaigns.

And so for Russell, the formula for returning to his 2016 levels of offensive aptitude isn’t a difficult one: stay on the field.

“Especially with the injuries, I definitely wanted to showcase some more of my talent last year than I displayed,” Russell said. “So going into this year, it’s mainly just keeping a good mental — just staying level headed. And also staying healthy and producing and being out there on the field.

“Next step for me, really just staying out there on the field. I really want to see what I can do as far as helping the team if I can stay healthy for a full season. I think if I just stay out there on the field, I’m going to produce.”

While the decrease in being on the field meant lower numbers from a “counting” standpoint — the drop from 21 homers in 2016 to 12 last year, the drop from 95 RBIs to 43 can in part be attributed to the lower number of games — certain rate stats looked different, too. His on-base percentage dropped from .321 in 2016 to .304 last year.

Russell also struggled during the postseason, picking up just six hits in 36 plate appearances in series against the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out 13 times in 10 postseason games.

Of course, he wasn’t alone. That World Series hangover was team-wide throughout the first half of the season. And even though the Cubs scored 824 runs during the regular season, the second most in the National League and the fourth most in baseball, plenty of guys had their offensive struggles: Schwarber, Heyward and Ben Zobrist, to name a few.

“You can’t take anything for granted. So whenever you win a World Series or you do something good, you just have to live in the moment,” Russell said. “It was a tough season last year because we were coming off winning the World Series and the World Series hangover and all that. This year, we had a couple months off, a couple extra weeks off, and I think a lot of guys took advantage of that. I know I did. And now that we’re here in spring training, we’re going to get back at it.”

Cubs Talk Podcast: Discussing 5-man unit and where Montgomery fits into Cubs' plans

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Discussing 5-man unit and where Montgomery fits into Cubs' plans

Jon Lester has arrived at Cubs camp, and he’s pleased with the new-look rotation full of potential aces. Kelly Crull and Vinnie Duber discuss the 5-man unit, and where Mike Montgomery fits into the Cubs’ plans.

Plus, Kelly and Vinnie talk Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber, along with the continuing free agent stalemate surrounding Jake Arrieta.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here: