Cubs

Maddon blows up at Cardinals: 'We're not going to put up with that'

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Maddon blows up at Cardinals: 'We're not going to put up with that'

Joe Maddon was just itching for a reporter to ask him about Anthony Rizzo's hit-by-pitch in the seventh inning.

The Cubs manager was all prepared and used the platform with media and a half-dozen TV cameras to send the Cardinals a message: "We're not going to put up with that."

When Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday pinch-hit in the fifth inning, he took a pitch in the helmet from Cubs pitcher Dan Haren, who insisted over and over that it was an accident. After all, the Cubs were only winning 3-2 at the time and the tying run was already on second base.

The Cardinals retaliated by plunking Rizzo in the seventh, and pitcher Matt Belisle and St. Louis manager Mike Matheny were both ejected.

"I'm really disappointed in what the Cardinals did right there," Maddon said. "Absolutely. We did not hit their guy on purpose at all. It was an absolute mistake; there was no malicious intent on Dan Haren's part. None.

"So to become this vigilante group that all of a sudden wants to get their own pound of flesh, that's absolutely insane, ridiculous and wrong. We don't start stuff, but we will stop stuff."

Maddon went on to say that his team plans on stealing bases late in blowout games against the Cardinals if they refuse to hold runners on the bases.

Maddon cited a desire to score more runs and ensure important relievers like Hector Rondon can just get a rest and not have to worry about warming up.

[MORE: Heads up: The Cubs are coming after the Cardinals]

"I never read this book the Cardinals have written on how to play baseball," Maddon said. "That particular book that you guys got was written right around the turn of the last century. Like 1900, when it took several singles to score runs as opposed to one big guy coming up to hit a home run.

"So that all has changed. You can take that book and you can read it yourself. 'Cause I don't give a crap about that book. I want everybody there to understand that. We don't start stuff, but we stop stuff."

Maddon is known for his mild temper and positive, patient nature. It's a major reason why the Cubs thought he'd be a perfect fit on a young team getting their first taste of winning at the big-league level.

Friday's postgame press conference was probably the most fired up Maddon has been all season.

He refused to believe Belisle's pitch may have been an accident.

"Of course not. That is ridiculous," Maddon said. "I don't want to hear that. I don't want to hear about pitching inside. I don't want to hear any of that crap.

"The pitch [Haren] hit their guy with was an absolute mistake. It was awful. We all hated it in the dugout. I'm happy that he's fine, absolutely, but you don't do that under those circumstances.

"We don't start stuff, but we finish stuff."

That one-liner will probably end up on a T-shirt in the Cubs clubhouse before the homestand is over.

When Rizzo was hit, he started walking toward the mound slowly, but other than that, there was no altercation between the two teams or any players. Maddon stayed at his perch on the top step of the Cubs' dugout.

[RELATED: Redemption: Starlin Castro has game of his life as Cubs beat Cards]

Maddon mentioned he didn't have any personal history with the Cardinals organization prior to Friday, but ask him again in a week.

"I don't know who put out the hit - I don't know if Tony Soprano was in the dugout; I didn't see him in there," Maddon said. "We're not gonna put up with that from them or anybody else.

"I didn't cause a ruckus out there because I have a lot of respect for the umpire crew that was out there. I thought they did a great job. ... I just want people to know just because we didn't go out there in that particular moment is not a sign of weakness. We didn't go out there out of respect to the umpires."

Haren came up in the Cardinals organization and said he expected there to be retaliation, to the point where he even apologized to Rizzo right after the fifth inning in case the Cardinals went after him.

Haren talked about how it was ingrained in their minds in the Cardinals organization to protect the big guys - like Holliday or Albert Pujols - when they were hit.

"They've been known for doing these types of things and policing it that way," Haren said. "Sometimes they take it to a little bit of an extreme, but you just hope that they know it wasn't on purpose. I don't know if they do [know].

"They were yelling at me pretty good from the dugout. I didn't know what to say; did they want me to say 'I'm sorry'?"

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

The Cubs-Cardinals rivalry didn't need much of a spark now that the Cubs are competitive and coming after the Cardinals in the divisional race.

But this will be an added point of contention between the two teams for at least the rest of this season.

With emotions running high, it's fair to ask: Is the beanball done for the weekend?

"I think it's up to them," Haren said. "I certainly don't think anyone on our side is going to come out and throw at anybody, that's for sure. Since I've been here, there's never been any type of order to hit anybody or anything like that.

"It's up to them. If they want to continue, that's on them. Like I said to you guys, it was an accident and hopefully they threw at Rizzo and it's done with.

"You don't want to see someone get hurt, especially on two teams that are likely to be playing baseball a little bit deeper."

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Will the next 12 games determine the Cubs season?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Will the next 12 games determine the Cubs season?

On this edition of the Sports Talk Live podcast, David Kaplan is joined by Hub Arkush, Mike Esposito and Jason Goch. The guys discuss whether or not the next 12 games will determine the Cubs season. (1:30) Plus how concerned should Cubs fans be with Cole Hamels? (4:15) And the panel discusses who would be the odd man out of the Cubs playoff rotation. (5:20) Plus would you choose to re-sign Nicholas Castellanos over another star? (8:00) Kyle Long apologizes for getting kicked out of practice last week. (11:45) The guys weigh in on the new trend of NFL players not playing at all in the preseason. (13:00) Plus the guys discuss an unlikely candidate to solve the Bears kicking issues. (15:30) Can Joakim Noah coexist with Lebron James? (16:30) The panel discuss whether or not the White Sox should bring back Ivan Nova next season and where does Jose Abreu fit in the rebuilding plans. (18:45) And Sox skipper Rick Renteria gives a strong response to all his social media critics. (20:40)

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

Cubs lay out next installment of the plan for Ben Zobrist

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USA TODAY

Cubs lay out next installment of the plan for Ben Zobrist

Ben Zobrist will see more action on the minor-league fields this weekend.

The Cubs announced Tuesday evening the veteran switch-hitter will play for Double-A Tennessee Thursday night in Jackson, Tenn. Then, Zobrist would head back to Iowa where he will play with the Cubs' Triple-A team Friday and Saturday (the Iowa Cubs have a day game Thursday). 

By the time Zobrist is done with his game on Saturday, that could be the one-week mark of his return to the big leagues. If he's activated off the restricted list by the end of the day on Saturday, Aug. 31, he would be eligible for the postseason.

In nine games with Iowa, Advanced Class-A Myrtle Beach and Class-A South Bend over the last couple weekends, Zobrist is hitting .222/.344/.481, good for an .825 OPS with 2 homers and 4 RBI. 

When Zobrist returns, he figures to slot in part-time at second base, as the Cubs already have a pretty stable outfield trio of Jason Heyward-Nicholas Castellanos-Kyle Schwarber.

It remains to be seen whether Joe Maddon will insert Zobrist into the leadoff spot when the veteran switch-hitter is in the lineup, but either way, he could present a nice boost for the team ahead of the stretch run, both on the field and in the clubhouse.

"I've never played with Ben, but I've heard that he's an incredible guy and an even better teammate," said Castellanos, who gave the Cubs an early lead Tuesday night with another first-inning homer.

Zobrist's timeline could coincide nicely for the Cubs since catcher Willson Contreras is projected back in early September. The bullpen is back at full strength once again with Steve Cishek activated off the IL Tuesday and Brandon Kintzler and Craig Kimbrel returning on the recent road trip.

But a lot can happen in the next two weeks and Zobrist still has a couple boxes to check before the Cubs can count on him for the final month of the season.