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Joe Maddon still planning on Cubs' postseason push

BY TONI GINNETTI

For the Sun-Times

Playing a makeup game in late September is just fine with Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

In fact, he’s glad the washed-out game Saturday against the Royals will be played at 7:05 p.m. Sept. 28.

“I love it. I don’t like too many off days in September or too many, period,” he said. “With a young club, it’s better to keep them playing.”

The team is off Sept. 24.

Maddon said the Cubs can handle the extra game with expanded rosters in September.

“August really is the dog days, but you get a second wind going into September,” Maddon said. “There’s more adrenaline. I would rather be playing than not playing.”

The makeup game will be the last regular-season home game, but Maddon remains convinced there will be more baseball at Wrigley.

“We don’t plan on watching anyone else play in October,” he said. “We want to be [in the playoffs] ourselves. I choose to believe we can. I’m eager to see how June unfolds. Our players understand now what we’re trying to do. I really believe we’re a playoff-caliber team, and I’m not going to back off that.”

By the numbers

The Cubs finished May with a 14-14 record after going 12-8 in April. It marked the first time the team has had a .500 record or better in consecutive months since the end of 2008.

The Cubs’ 2-1 victory Sunday against the Royals was their major-league-leading sixth walk-off win.

The Cubs are 5-2 in extra-inning games and 14-10 in one-run games, including 9-3 at home.

Eye on Schwarber

Catcher Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs’ top draft pick last year, -continues to excel at

Class AA Tennessee. He had his second multihomer game and third multihit game Saturday. He is hitting .322 with 12 home runs and 31 RBI in 44 games.

The Indiana University product could be among the late-season call-ups.

Hockey time

Maddon said he’s “becoming a Blackhawks fan, as I should be.” But divided loyalty will be a problem in the Stanley Cup Final between the Hawks and Tampa Bay Lightning, the team Maddon followed while managing the Rays.

“I’m good friends with coach [Jon] Cooper, and I’m really excited about watching it,” he said. “But I’ll just say, may the best team win.”

Maddon and the Cubs have worn custom Hawks jerseys during the playoffs, and Maddon is a fan of the sport and its players.

“It’s a game I always wanted to play as a kid but didn’t,” he said. “I know they’re only on the ice for minutes at a time, but their conditioning staggers me. Their agility and stamina stands out to me, and they’re tough.”