Friday night lights: Cubs happy to be playing late

If it were up to manager Joe Maddon, every Friday home game would start at night.

“God invented lights for night baseball,” Maddon deadpanned. “That was part of his overarching plan.”

That, along with an abundance of holy cows.

Maddon spoke a couple of hours before the Cubs played the first Friday regular-season night game in the 101-year history of Wrigley Field. The team announced about a week ago that it would push back its originally scheduled 1:20 p.m. start time because of a late return flight from Pittsburgh that did not get in until after midnight.

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher John Lackey throws against the Milwaukee Brewers during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) ORG XMIT: OTKNH104

“We’re glad the change was made,” Ben Zobrist said. “It gives us an opportunity to take a little breather.”

The Brewers did not love the scheduling change, which helped the team they’re chasing in the standings. Players on Milwaukee had Thursday off and waited more than a day and a half in Chicago to play.

“Well, look, it’s an advantage for them to have the game changed to tonight,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Because nobody wants to sleep for five hours, then have to come out and play. So we would obviously have preferred the other way, but the game’s at 7. Let’s go.”

Maddon said almost all games from Monday through Friday should start at night, while day games should be reserved for weekends, holidays and the occasional getaway day on the last game of a homestand.

“Part of it is the rest, part of it is your routine,” Maddon said. “A big part of it is routine. The more you break a player’s routine, the more difficult it is to remain consistent in the game.

“It’d be tantamount to you working different shifts two or three times a week. How much would you like that? Nobody really looks at it that way, but it’s true.”

Progress report

Willson Contreras (strained right hamstring) will return to Chicago to be re-evaluated Saturday after a brief injury-rehabilitation stint with Class A Myrtle Beach, whose season ended Friday night.

The Cubs hope to have a better idea about Contreras’ possible return date after the medical staff checks him out. Contreras, 25, has been sidelined since suffering the injury while running to first base Aug. 9.

Meanwhile, Addison Russell is jogging without pain in his comeback bid from a sprain and plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Russell has yet to resume baseball activities and could be out several more weeks.

Waiting and worrying

Albert Almora Jr. is one of several Cubs who’s thinking of friends and family members in south Florida as Hurricane Irma bears down.

Almora, who grew up near Miami in Hialeah, said his parents decided to hunker down and wait out the storm. The family has five dogs, two cats, a bird and more than 50 chickens and did not want to abandon the animals.

“Family is everything to me,” said Almora, 23.

“I know there’s going to be a stretch where I’m not going to hear anything from them, and I don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s going to be tough.”

Follow me on Twitter @tcmusick.

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