Cubs

Cubs running out of patience with Jason Heyward at World Series

Cubs running out of patience with Jason Heyward at World Series

CLEVELAND — The Cubs are running out of patience with Jason Heyward. It’s nothing personal, because Heyward continues to be a Gold Glove defender and a model teammate. It’s not necessarily a statement on the next seven years of the biggest contract in team history. But manager Joe Maddon recognizes the urgency of the situation, benching the $184 million outfielder in the franchise’s first World Series game since 1945.

Chris Coghlan didn’t create the offensive spark Maddon hoped for against Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night, and Albert Almora Jr. became a late-inning replacement in right field during a 6-0 loss at Progressive Field.

“It is what it is,” Heyward said. “Just be ready. And if it’s not you, it’s not you. It’s a situation where — don’t be caught off guard — and be ready all the time. If you don’t get called, then you don’t get called.”

While Kyle Schwarber’s return to the lineup dominated the pregame news cycle, Heyward is coming off two playoff rounds where he went 2-for-28 (.071 average) against the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, continuing a year-long trend where he put up career lows in homers (seven) and OPS (.631).

“You want to win now,” said Maddon, who spoke with Heyward before the game. “There’s no time to really give him time to get back in the groove, like we were trying to do earlier this year. We’ll see how this looks tonight. We’ll play it out tonight — see what it feels or looks like — and then make our determination for tomorrow.

“Not giving up on him by any means. (And) I stand by (this): I love having him on the field. I feel so good with him out there.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

But the Cubs don’t have the same luxuries anymore, the way Maddon gave Heyward a mental break for an August weekend at Coors Field in the hopes that it would clear his head and unlock his offensive game. The Cubs no longer have weeks to tinker or the comfort from having a huge lead in the division. Yet Maddon still thinks Heyward can change how Year 1 will be remembered.

“(With) human nature, sometimes you’re going to see that happening,” Maddon said. “Things maybe in the first year don’t go exactly according to plan. However, I really feel strongly that they will with him.

“He’s an incredibly wonderful young man. And he’s very strong mentally. He just has some things to work out, honestly, from the offensive side with his swing. I’m not saying anything new (here), but that’s what comes next. The offseason is going to be really important for him. But over the course of this next week, I’m certain he’s going to do something to help us win this whole thing.”

Basket Slam: Wrigley's quirks come to Cubs' aid in walk-off win

Basket Slam: Wrigley's quirks come to Cubs' aid in walk-off win

The Wrigley Field basket has played a huge role in this week's Cubs-Reds series.

In Monday night's game, Cincinnati catcher Curt Casali hit a game-tying homer into the basket in the seventh inning of a game the Cubs went on to lose.

But the basket giveth and the basket also taketh away.

Tuesday night, it was Kyle Schwarber and the Cubs who were singing the praises of one of the strangest ballpark quirks in baseball.

Schwarber connected on a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th inning off Reds closer Raisel Iglesias, hitting a fly ball through the impossibly-humid air and into the basket in left-centerfield for a 4-3 Cubs win.

"Whoever thought about that basket — whenever that occurred — tell them, 'thank you,'" Joe Maddon said. "Although it did work against us [Monday]. When it works for you, it's awesome."

Schwarber has stood under the left-field basket many times with his back against the wall, thinking he might be able to make a play on a high fly ball only to see it settle into the wickets and turn into a chance for a Bleacher Bum to show off their arm. 

But is he a huge fan of the basket now that it worked in his favor?

"I guess so," Schwarber laughed. "Yesterday, it cost us, but today, it helped us out. It's just the factor of Wrigley Field. Happy it worked out today."

It was Schwarber's first career walk off RBI of any kind.

It was the Cubs' fourth walk-off homer of the season, but their first since May 11 when Willson Contreras called "game" on the Milwaukee Brewers. 

The Cubs are now 4-1 since the All-Star Break and hold a 2.5-game lead in the division.

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Big changes to the Cubs roster

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USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Big changes to the Cubs roster

Doug Glanville and Ozzie Guillen join Leila Rahimi on Baseball Night in Chicago to discuss all things baseball.

The talk about the trade that sent Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery to the Royals in exchange for Martin Maldonado, Willson Contreras' injury that sent him to the injured list and an update on the White Sox roster moves and rebuild status.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: