Struggling Russell, Schwarber homer as Cubs salvage finale vs. Rockies
Advice is coming from all directions, but “seat of the pants’’ decision-making is not in manager Joe Maddon’s manual.
“Anger is not a solution,’’ he said. ‘‘Seat-of-the-pants decisions are not the answer, either.’’
On display during much of the Cubs’ 6-4 homestand, their offensive struggles are symptomatic of a young team, he said — even though that team is essentially the same one that won the 2016 World Series.
All the experience gained last year didn’t include the lessons that come from failure.
“It’s part of the game,’’ catcher Miguel Montero said of the hitting woes that have dogged Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber, who had key home runs in the Cubs’ 7-5 victory Sunday against the Rockies that snapped a four-game skid.
“The thing is, you need to be patient with them because they’re still young. They had so much success so early in their careers, their time in the minors was so short. It’s human nature to try to do too much.
“When you win a World Series, you have big expectations [put on you]. Maybe things haven’t worked out the way we hoped, but I can see it coming. They don’t quit.
“And you only get experience when you’re here. They’re still maturing and getting better.’’
Maddon is of the same mind as Montero, who went 2-for-4 and hit his first home run since May 4. He thinks it’s best to keep “information overload” to a minimum when young players struggle.
“I’m certain Uber drivers have been telling them how to hit right now,’’ Maddon said.
“They’re going to keep playing. Sometimes you have to permit guys to embrace the suck and struggle through things [at this level].’’
Maddon did employ a more “veteran’’ lineup in hopes of salvaging the last game against the Rockies, and the strategy paid off.
Jon Jay went 2-for-5 in the leadoff spot, Ben Zobrist was 2-for-4, including a three-run homer in the first inning, and Jason Heyward provided game-saving defense in the fourth.
And perhaps the rub-off effect helped Russell, whose two-out homer in the sixth broke a 4-4 tie, and pinch hitter Schwarber, who followed Russell.
“It felt good to see some success, but tomorrow is another day,’’ Russell said.
“There were good at-bats the whole day,’’ Schwarber said.
Maddon is hopeful the carryover will be a boost in confidence — the element he said his young players need the most.
“Regardless of what you’ve done in the past, it’s so easy to forget that because you’re trying to do well in the present,’’ Maddon said.
“Sometimes when things aren’t going properly and they start happening too quickly, all of a sudden you lose whatever that little thing is that permits you to slow things down and maintain your confidence. We’re all subject to that.’’
Don’t expect a shuttle service to the minors as a way to boost confidence.
“When you move people around, who are you going to bring up and what do you want out of the person you’re bringing up?’’ Maddon said.
“If there is an absolute, positive reason to move someone and you get to that point, then you do something.
“But if you want to move somebody back, you have to choose who you bring in their stead.
“I am slanted toward the younger guys and the development component of this game. If you choose not to do that, you’ll end up in a lot of trouble in a few years.
“There are times you have to absorb growing pains and know there are times guys are going to struggle, but they have to learn how to come out of that. When they do, they’re going to be better for it.
“I don’t jump on and off bandwagons. The youngsters are here. They need to play. I believe in these guys. They’re really good, and they’ll show it again relatively soon.’’
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