Cubs: Joe Maddon wants Tsuyoshi Wada to hit the reset button


Cubs: Joe Maddon wants Tsuyoshi Wada to hit the reset button

Tsuyoshi Wada knows he’s put himself in a tough position in the Cubs starting rotation after another rough, short outing.

The left-hander was yanked from the Cubs’ 6-3 win over Cincinnati Thursday after allowing a leadoff home run in the fourth inning, giving him back-to-back abbreviated starts with little success in them. Manager Joe Maddon said after Thursday’s game he hasn’t yet thought about dropping Wada from the rotation, but if 34-year-old doesn’t get the message, he very well could lose his spot.

The message Maddon will deliver to Wada on Friday: Be more assertive and trust your stuff.

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“That’s why he’s here in the first place,” Maddon said. “A guy like that that doesn’t throw exceptionally hard, you need to trust what you’re doing out there."

Wada’s fastball velocity has dropped about one mile per hour since he made his season debut May 20 in San Diego, though he said there’s nothing wrong with his arm. The feeling Maddon and catcher Miguel Montero have is it’s all mental at this point.

“He needs to not give that much credit to the hitters,” Montero said. “It feels like he’s giving them too much credit and he falls behind … He needs to pitch to more contract.”

Montero said he saw Wada trying to make perfect pitches in 0-0 counts over his three innings Thursday, in which he allowed three runs on four hits with two walks. He gave up a two-run triple to Reds starter Michael Lorenzen and a solo home run to light-hitting outfielder Chris Dominguez, the later of which knocked him out of the game in favor of Travis Wood, who threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans]

The early results for Wada were solid for a No. 5 starter: A 2.30 ERA on 10 hits, five walks and 19 strikeouts over his first three starts covering 15 2/3 innings. He posted a 3.25 ERA in 13 starts for the Cubs last year, so the club has seen him succeed before.

Maddon feels like if Wada can get back to being more “primal” in term of his aggression, and re-gain the confidence that he can pitch well in the majors, he’ll be fine. But with two former starters in the bullpen in Wood and Edwin Jackson, there’s no shortage of options with the Cubs right now to replace him if he can’t turn things around.

“I don’t make those kind of decisions,” Wada said through a translator. “But if you look at the results it could be happening.” 


Joe Maddon wants Cubs fans to cheer for Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez

Joe Maddon wants Cubs fans to cheer for Gleyber Torres and Eloy Jimenez

Why can't a trade be looked at as a win-win? 

There doesn't always have to be a clear winner and loser.

Prior to Jose Quintana taking the ball for Saturday's game against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field, Joe Maddon was asked about the players (Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease) the Cubs gave up to acquire Quintana as well as the deal with the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman in July 2016.

Gleyber Torres is absolutely killing it in New York, hitting .323 with a 1.014 OPS, 9 homers and 24 RBI in only 29 games. Six of those homers have come in the last week alone. 

With the White Sox, both Jimenez and Cease have found success in Double-A and Advanced Class-A, respectively.

Jimenez is hitting .331 with a .992 OPS, 9 homers and 35 RBI in 35 games. Cease is 6-2 with a 2.83 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 57 strikeouts in 47.2 innings.

As the Cubs work to get their offense settled into a consistent groove, some Cubs fans have been looking at what might've been with guys like Torres and Jimenez.

"You can't have it both ways, man," Maddon said. "I'm happy for Gleyber. When he left, we talked about it. And we talked about the kids that went to the White Sox. It's good stuff. 

"I'm really disappointed if anybody's disappointed in the fact we won the World Series in 2016 and the fact that the guy we're talking about that we had to give up Gleyber for was so instrumental in that happening. That's bad process if you're gonna get stuck on something like that. Be happy for Gleyber. Be happy for him."

Maddon has been a fan of Torres' since he saw him in spring training in 2015, Maddon's first year in the Cubs organization.

"This kid's 21, with high, high baseball intellect," Maddon said. "He's very similar to Javy on the field. I've had some great conversations with him in the past. 

"The first time I saw him in spring training, I thought this guy's for real. It was like one at-bat, line drive to RF, I said who is this guy? And then you have a conversation with him. He's solid."

Maddon's point is a great one — would Cubs fans prefer to still have Torres and NOT have the 2016 World Series championship? Because that title doesn't happen without Chapman, regardless of how you feel about him as a person or what the Cubs had to give up to acquire him.

"Don't play that game," Maddon said. "Be happy for [Torres]. I'm gonna be happy when Eloy and Dylan make it up here. All these dudes, I want them to get here and be really good. And the guys that we get, I want them to be really good. 

"I don't understand why somebody's gotta lose all the time. This is an absolute classic example of what was good for both teams."

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 12th + 13th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

An off-day did nothing to slow down the 1998 National League MVP as Sosa collected his second straight 2-homer game May 27 of that season.

He went deep in the eighth and ninth innings of a Cubs' 10-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field, driving in 3 runs. 

The first homer - off Darrin Winston - was an absolute blast, traveling an estimated 460 feet. The second shot was tame in comparison with only 400 feet as a recorded distance.

In a matter of two games, Sosa raised his season OPS from .930 to .988 and his slugging percentage from .521 to .577 thanks to a pair of 2-homer contests.

Fun fact: Doug Glanville - former Cubs outfielder and current NBC Sports Chicago analyst - was the Phillies leadoff hitter that day in 1998, collecting three hits and scoring a pair of runs.