The Cubs reassigned eight players Monday to trim down to 53. Infielder Christian Villanueva and catcher Rafael Lopez were optioned to Triple-A Iowa, while infielder Logan Watkins and pitchers Corey Black, Pierce Johnson, Armando Rivero, Donn Roach and Hunter Cervenka were sent to minor-league camp. Maddon said “everybody here” believes Johnson, one of the Cubs’ top prospects, will be a big-leaguer someday.
“Now he’s gotta go out there and just get the time under his belt,” he said.
Outfielder Matt Szczur bounded into his manager’s office Monday to discuss Thursday’s NCAA tournament game between his alma mater, Villanova, and Joe Maddon’s, Lafayette. A former football and baseball star, Szczur joked he and Maddon would have to come up with some sort of friendly wager.
“Maybe he’ll wax my car or something like that,” Maddon said. “But I’m not going to wax his. I’ll pay someone to do it.”
Maddon calls Padres manager Bud Black, an old friend, “Pepe Negro” — a joke that dates to Black winning the Caribbean Series with Hermosillo. (Negro means “black” in Spanish.) When the Angels played in Mexico when the two were coaches, Maddon encouraged Black to sign autographs with the moniker. Black’s name is saved as that in Maddon’s cell phone.
“A legend was born,” Maddon said.
The Cubs entered Monday with 16 errors, fourth-most in the Cactus League, and added two more in the 7-0 loss to the Padres. A run scored on left fielder Chris Coghlan’s errant throw to the cut-off man, and right fielder Jorge Soler bobbled a ball. Shortstop Starlin Castro and second baseman Chris Valaika struggled on hot-hit grounders, too.
Royals at Cubs, 3:05 p.m., Cubs.com. Danny Duffy vs. Jason Hammel