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Cubs refuse to debate Donald Trump on latest shot at ownership

When it comes to the Cubs, Donald Trump is no mime.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. – Joe Maddon can’t get enough of the spectacle this election season has become.

But he has no intention of getting anywhere near it, either.

“I don’t want to get in a battle with Mr. Trump,” the Cubs manager said Tuesday when asked about the polarizing Republican front-runner’s latest shot at Cubs ownership.

Last month, Donald Trump issued a tweet referencing the Ricketts family’s funding of a Super PAC targeting him, saying: “They better be careful. They have a lot to hide!”

Monday he was asked by the Washington Post what he meant by that.

“Well, it means that I’ll start spending on them,” he said. “I’ll start taking ads telling them all what a rotten job they’re doing with the Chicago Cubs. … I’ll start doing ads about their baseball team. That it’s not properly run or that they haven’t done a good job in the brokerage business lately.”

Could Trump have been referring to the Cubs’ 6-13 spring training record at the time of the comments? Or Jon Lester’s 5.14 ERA this spring? Or maybe the mime that showed up to camp Tuesday morning?

“I have no idea,” said Maddon, whose Cubs won 97 games on the way to last year’s National League Championship Series and are the Las Vegas favorites to win this year’s World Series.

“Maybe Mr. Trump did not follow the [team] last year,” he said. “I have no idea.”

That doesn’t mean Maddon is not rapt by what’s going on in presidential politics this year.

“It’s actually to the point now where I prefer watching Fox and CNN over ESPN any day of the week,” Maddon said. “I’m totally enjoying the sport right now. Regardless of what’s being said or how it’s being said, it’s just posturing anyway. I’m just enjoying it.”

Maddon, who founded the Hazleton Integration Project to heal racial and cultural divides in his Pennsylvania hometown, declined to comment when asked what a potential Trump presidency might mean after months of bigoted, divisive rhetoric from the candidate.

“I think it’s very wise for me to remain apolitical at this point,” said Maddon, who had dinner Monday night with David Axelrod, the former strategist and advisor to President Obama and a longtime Cubs fan.

“Very entertaining hearing his take on things – entertaining, insightful, informative,” Maddon said. “I probably never have followed it as closely as I am right now.”

Just one more thing about Trump…

“That’s all the political crap you’re getting out of me,” Maddon said. “I love all this stuff, but I’m not going there. I’m not going there.”

Actual baseball note: Maddon said he and the staff still haven’t decided whether they’d rather carry an extra reliever or a fifth bench player with the 25th roster spot. He met with Shane Victorino (calf) about the veteran outfielder’s status Tuesday and said Victorino remains in the mix for the spot, assuming he can demonstrate in the next 10 days or so that he’s healthy.