Cubs

Joe Maddon calls Alex Rodriguez 'irresponsible" in radio interview

Joe Maddon calls Alex Rodriguez 'irresponsible" in radio interview

Joe Maddon joined Dan Bernstein and Conor McKnight on their 670 the Score show Tuesday afternoon, speaking candidly about Alex Rodriguez accusing the Cubs clubhouse of not being supportive of Yu Darvish during his rehab process. 

"I was really shocked by the whole diatribe, in a sense a soliloquy," Maddon said. "It really came off to me as plastic and probably rehearsed in advance. It was definitely a contrived situation. That part of it, I didn't really like either. Beyond the substance, it was definitely not extemporaneous. And that really is a concern too. Because if you walk into our locker (room) trying to substantiate something, you've already made up your mind to do that. That's kind of bothersome. These (national broadcasters), they see us two or three times here. They're not in the presence of all of our guys. They really have no business making those kinds of comments. So having said all that, for me, it's not about empowering Alex. I do not want to do that whatsoever." 

Maddon continued to go through his frustrations with Rodriguez, saying the former Yankee stars' comments "contaminated" their clubhouse. 

"Because I think that's what he's looking for -- is empowerment. And the other part is from our perspective, nobody contaminates our state. You as an individual should not permit it, we as a group are not going to permit it. We have a very tightly knit group. These guys are wonderful. They interest so well together, not only among themselves but also coaches, front office, etc. It's a very tightly knit group. So when you attempt to come into our sanctum and say or make those kinds of comments in a predetermined negative way, I don't take kindly to that."

The Cubs skipper assured Darvish that everyone in the clubhouse understands he is recovering from an injury, as the 31-year-old continues to rehab from an elbow impingement. 

"We wanted to reassure Yu that none of that is true," said Maddon. "Yu needs to know that, coming into the situation he has and not being able to perform based on an injury. It's very difficult. It's very difficult to be that guy when you're walking around and you got something wrong and you know you want to be out there. You know you can help, and it's tough. It's very tough mentally on that person. So my desire is this goes away today."

The interview ended with Maddon given one last bit of advice to Rodriguez and how comments like these can ruin a reputation - which was a tad bit ironic talking about a guy who lied about PED use. 

"What I just said to you illustrates exactly how I feel about this. It's one of those situations that a guy like him (Rodriguez) has to be careful because now he can really sully his reputation in other clubhouses based on this irresponsible moment."

And to that point, Anthony Rizzo was on David Kaplan's ESPN 1000's show discussing Darvish, saying he liked "having him around." 

A response like this was expected from Joe Maddon and the Cubs, especially after the integrity of their locker room was put into question. It's safe to assume Alex Rodriguez will not be greeted with warm welcomes the next time he steps foot in the Cubs clubhouse. 

On a mistake-filled afternoon, Javier Baez does what he does best and saves the Cubs

On a mistake-filled afternoon, Javier Baez does what he does best and saves the Cubs

Consider the Cubs’ starting middle infield in Saturday’s 6-5 win over the San Diego Padres to be comprised of two extremes. 

On one end of the spectrum was Addison Russell, who started at second base. Russell was doubled off second base on an Albert Almora line drive in the second inning — a ball hit hard enough where, had it fell in for a hit, he wouldn’t have scored. There was no spinning Russell drifting far enough off second base to be doubled up; it was simply bad baserunning. 

Russell, too, was thrown out at home on an Almora ground ball in the fourth inning. He appeared to lose a pop fly in the sun, too, which fell in for a double in the third inning. 

Manager Joe Maddon was willing to excuse the pop-up double — “The sun ball, there’s nothing you could do about that,” he said — but sounded frustrated with Russell’s far-too-frequent baserunning gaffes. 

“He’s gotta straighten some things out,” Maddon said. “He has to. There’s no question. I’m not going to stand here — he’s got to, we’ve talked about his baserunning in the past. 

“… The baserunning, there’s some things there — we’re making too many outs on the bases and we’re missing things on the bases that we can’t to be an elite team.”

Russell’s mistakes were part of a larger sloppy showing by both teams. As Cubs reliever Brandon Kintzler put it: “No lead was safe. It was really just who was going to survive and not make so many mistakes.”

Javier Baez ensured the Cubs would survive by not merely avoiding mistakes, but by coming up with two massive plays. 

Baez’s three-run home run in the fourth inning gave the Cubs’ the lead for good, and he fell a triple short of the cycle. He’s homered in consecutive games, and Maddon senses the 26-year-old is emerging from a slump that dropped his OPS to .853 after Wednesday’s game, his lowest mark since the small-sample-size landscape of mid-April. 

But it was Baez’s masterful tag in the bottom of the ninth inning that captured most of the attention around Wrigley Field, reminding everyone in the dugouts and stands just how incredible “El Mago” can be. 

Craig Kimbrel walked Wil Myers to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning, and after budding superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. inexplicably bunted (he popped out), Myers took off to steal second base. Kimbrel sailed a fastball high and inside, and Victor Caratini’s throw was well to the left of second base. Myers appeared to have the base stolen until Baez gloved the ball and rapidly snapped a tag onto Myers’ left leg:

”We needed a play made, and he made it,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “It’s what he does.”

Baez’s home run increased the Cubs’ win expectancy by 35.7 percent; his tag on Myers upped it that mark from 83.3 percent to 96.5 percent. This is why the Cubs’ mantra, even when Baez is in a lull, is to let Javy be Javy. 

One player can’t carry a team forever — Baez had his best season as a pro in 2018, only to see the Cubs crash out of the Wild Card game, of course. But it’s hard to not think about the kind of plays Baez can conjure up when the Cubs need them the most in 2019’s playoff race. 

After all, stuff like that tag on Myers — the Cubs have come to expect that from Baez. 

“You saw a lot of plays today, they weren’t baseball plays,” Maddon said. “The game is clamoring for baseball players who know how to play this game, and he’s one. He is one. He’s got the biggest hard drive, the most RAM, he’s got everything going on every day. 

“He sees things, he’s got great vision. Technically, he’s a tremendous baseball player. He’s going to make some mistakes, like everyone else does, but what he sees and sees in advance — it’s like the best running back, it’s the best point guard you’ve ever seen. It’s all of that. As a shortstop, that’s what he is.

“… We needed him to be that guy today and he was. And again, it’s not overtly surprising.” 

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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