Maddon “ecstatic” with Russell’s progress at second

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Addison Russell makes a play during Thursday’s game. | Associated Press

Addison Russell didn’t have his best day Friday. His error to start the game helped lead to Cincinnati’s three-run first inning, forcing the Cubs to rally to send it to extra innings.

Despite that blip, Joe Maddon is “ecstatic” with how Russell is doing at second base.

“He’s been outstanding,” Maddon said. “The mistakes he’s made are, it doesn’t matter if he’s at second, short, third. Those are really routine plays that he normally makes.”

Before being brought up April 21, Russell had played only six minor-league games at second and five if one during last year’s Arizona Fall League is excluded. Maddon said he’s learned how to turn a double play “extremely well” and that he’s improved going to his right.

“I expect him to make mistakes. I know he’s going to make mistakes, so you don’t get upset with them,” Maddon said. “Over the next couple years, man, as this guy really understands and gets to play more regularly on a major-league field, he’s not going to make those mistakes.”

CUT OFF EARLY

Through five innings Saturday, Kyle Hendricks looked like he was on the way to his best start of the season. He had given up only one run and four hits with seven strikeouts before the rain came.

A two-hour, 48-minute delay later, Hendricks was done. But a day later, he wasn’t stewing about a missed opportunity.

“That was the third time through the order – sometimes third time they figure you out, sometimes you give up a couple big hits,” Hendricks said. “You can’t look at what could have been. You’ve just got to take the positives and move forward with that.”

Among the positives for Hendricks was his control. Of his 57 pitches, 43 were strikes while walking nobody. In the second inning he also laid down a sacrifice bunt, the first of the season by a Cubs pitcher.

The short start did tax the already-stretched Cubs bullpen, and to deal with that Sunday they recalled Brian Schlitter from Iowa and optioned Junior Lake.

CHATTING WITH WADA

Maddon said he’s had his talk with struggling starter Tsuyoshi Wada, and that Wada took the message “tremendously.” Over his past two starts, Wada has lasted only 6 2/3 innings while allowing eight earned runs and 13 hits.

“I got him to smile a little bit. I got him to open up a little bit,” Maddon said. “I’m really eager to see him play after what we talked about.”

Though Maddon stressed after his three-inning appearance Thursday that Wada would take his turn in the rotation Tuesday, that doesn’t mean the Cubs are without options for the fifth spot in the rotation if the 34-year-old lefty falters. They could turn to former starters Travis Wood or Edwin Jackson, or maybe a bit later use Jacob Turner.

Turner made his second rehab start Sunday for Double-A Tennessee, throwing 63 pitches over five scoreless innings. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list March 27 with right shoulder inflammation.

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