Thanks to Saturday’s brutal weather conditions in Chicago, the Cubs will be without an off day during the final week of the regular season.
But instead of lamenting the loss of the last day to rest during what could be a playoff push, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he’s more than happy with playing Kansas City in a makeup game on Monday, Sept. 28 at Wrigley Field.
“I love it, actually,” Maddon said. “We already have one off on Thursday before that. I don’t like too many off days in September. I don’t like too many off days period.
“I like off days, but not when they happen too frequently like it does in the beginning of the season. I think also with a young ball club it’s better to keep them playing.
Maddon has the cachet to say that, having managed a young Rays team to the World Series in 2008 and taking other youth-laden clubs to the playoffs during his nine-year tenure in St. Petersburg. Having rosters expand to 40 Sept. 1 provides an added cushion, too, plus the Cubs still have three off days in the season’s final month — including, as Maddon said, the Thursday before the makeup game against Kansas City.
For a team featuring plenty of pennant race greenhorns like Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler and Addison Russell, Maddon believes getting getting that extra day of rest isn’t necessary.
“When you get to August you’re going to be a little bit tired, you talk about the dog days, it’s true,” Maddon said. “But then you get your second wind, you get to the playoff run and you catch your second wind and you’re fine. You show up to the ballpark and you’re fine, the weather lightens up a bit, it’s a little bit cooler, there’s a lot of adrenaline in the ballpark on a daily basis. So all that stuff is covered. And I’d rather play than not play.”
This, of course, is contingent on the Cubs actually being in the National League Central/wild card hunt come late September. So far, the Cubs are hanging around the wild card race, though it’s probably too early to make any sweeping conclusions about that position.
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Maddon, though, expects his side to be competing for a playoff spot when that makeup game against the defending American League champions rolls around in the fall.
“We don’t plan on watching anybody else in October,” Maddon said. “We want to be there ourselves. … We are eager to see how June unfolds because we have been able to get certain things together. Our players understand what we’re trying to do now and we understand the players better.
“So let’s see how June pans out and then we can make some determinations after that, but I’m not going to back off. I really believe we are a playoff-caliber team.”