Joe Maddon plans ‘proactive’ rest schedule for young Cubs to preserve fall performance

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Starlin Castro (left) and Addison Russell will have regular days off during the second half of the season as Joe Maddon tries to preserve his lineup’s strength for a September -- and October -- push.

NEW YORK – Look for rookie Addison Russell’s day off Wednesday to become a more common practice for Cubs rookies – and even shortstop Starlin Castro – as manager Joe Maddon tries to preserve durability and production through the final months of the season.

Russell, who played 60 of his first 63 games since his April 21 debut, never has played more than 110 games in a season. Rookie Kris Bryant, who has started every game since April 17 debut, also has never played more than a five-month minor-league season.

“We’re planning on playing several more months, one extra [seventh] month,” Maddon said. “And these guys that have never done it before, it will just smack you in the face. So now’s the time to really be proactive regarding how you work with these guys.”

Russell, who’s 0-for-his-last-12 (and 1-for-19), said he hasn’t been told yet of the second-half plans for rotating days off, but understands the value.

“It’s not so much physical stuff; it’s more about mental stuff,” he said, adding he hasn’t sought out advice for first-time survival of the six-month season. “I just hear from people that it’s a grind. This is actually my first year where I feel really, really good, and I’m playing every single day. And it’s at the big-league level, so it’s a lot to handle.

“I’m just going to stick with my workout program and stick with my routine, and hopefully that will be enough to get me through the season.”

Maddon said despite Castro’s veteran status, he believes he’ll get more production at the plate long-term from Castro with a few more days off.

Bryant’s breathers look like a bigger schedule problem just because the Rookie of the Year candidate plays such a vital role in the Nos. 2 or 3 spots in the order.

“Then again if you don’t do that, then his role in the lineup is less impactful because he’s not going to be able to produce as much,” Maddon said. “So there’s times you’ve just got to do it.

“And that’ll be based on trying to pick the right guy to have him not play against, where it just appears to be a really tough matchup and we say let’s do something else that day.”

Bryant, by the way. is the first rookie in Cubs history to reach July 1 with at least 10 home runs, 40 RBIs and 40 runs scored.

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