Cubs

Joe Maddon has no interest in benching 'absolute winner' Jason Heyward

Joe Maddon has no interest in benching 'absolute winner' Jason Heyward

Cubs fans tired of watching Jason Heyward make soft contact can only hope the $184 million outfielder will find a way out of this season-long offensive spiral. Joe Maddon ultimately controls the lineup card, and the manager has no interest in benching Heyward, seeing him as the type of player who still does the little things so well.

In terms of actual value, it might not add up to the biggest contract in franchise history, but Heyward can help the Cubs win 3-2, 2-1 playoffs games with his Gold Glove defense, intelligent, aggressive approach to running the bases and the patience to drive up pitch counts and knock out an opposing starter.

“He’d be the first one to tell you he’s not happy with his offensive output,” Maddon said. “But if you’re standing in the dugout — and if you don’t know anything else about (his) batting average — you look at our record and you look at him in right field. I can’t be more comfortable with this guy (out there) while we’re playing baseball.

“He’s such a good baseball player. He’s such a great teammate, (plus) all the things he does that I believe are really important to victory, to a winning attitude, a winning team.”

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Heyward — who’s batting .225 with a .617 OPS that ranked 153rd out of the 155 qualified hitters in the majors — got a breather on Thursday afternoon as Ben Zobrist started in right field against the Milwaukee Brewers before the Cubs headed out on a three-city trip through the National League West.

As someone who built a reputation for grinding out at-bats, Heyward has as many walks (five) as extra-base hits since the All-Star break. The Cubs can’t bank on an age-27 power surge anymore, either, because Heyward has homered once since June 11.

Almost any other manager would be ridiculed by The Geek Department for saying things like this, but Maddon genuinely believes in Heyward’s intangibles and what that might mean in October.

“We’ll continue to work through all these moments,” Maddon said. “I do believe there’s going to be a tremendous reward at the end of all this, for him and for us. I know it’s difficult, outside looking in, but our record’s pretty good and he’s been on the field for most of those games. He’s a winner. He’s an absolute winner.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Dare we ask... are the Cubs back?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Dare we ask... are the Cubs back?

Rick Telander, Ben Finfer and Seth Gruen join Kap on the panel.

0:00 - The Cubs beat the Padres from their 6th win in their 7 games since the All-Star Break. Are they really this good or are they just feasting on sub-.500 teams?

7:00 - The White Sox have lost seven straight after the break. Should fans be furious with the slump or still optimistic about the future?

13:00 - The Bears report to Bourbonnais in 6 days. Will the 2019 season be a failure if they do not make it to the Super Bowl?

19:00 - Kap gives out his play of the night in the FanDuel Friday Faves.

Listen to the entire episode here or in the embedded player below.

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Gary Pressy - Behind the organ

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Gary Pressy - Behind the organ

Get to know Gary Pressy: Luke Stuckmeyer sits down with Cubs organist Gary Pressy.

1:00 - Find out when Gary started playing the organ.

2:40 - Gary discusses his consecutive games streak.

4:10 - Gary talks about some of the new songs he mixes in with the old classics.

7:15 - Gary picks his favorite moment from the Cubs 2016 World Series Championship season.

9:20 - Gary plays "Beer Money" - answering Cubs trivia questions.

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Cubs Talk Podcast

Subscribe:

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.