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Cubs notes: On six-man rotations, rookies, raking and waking up

Kris Bryant gestures to the bench after his leadoff double in Sunday's sixth inning.

LOS ANGELES — With John Lackey on track for a return from the disabled list within a week, and with Mike Montgomery pitching well enough to intrigue, Maddon has not ruled out using a sixth man in the rotation down the stretch to conserve strength into the playoffs.

“We haven’t planned that specifically yet,” he said. “I’m not opposed. We’ll see how it plays out with Mikey coming the next time through.”

Lackey, who’s been sidelined the last two weeks because of a sore shoulder, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Monday. Barring setback, he would throw one more, then join the rotation over the weekend against San Francisco or early next week at Milwaukee.

Montgomery, who allowed four runs in 9 1/3 innings his first two starts, is assured one more start, Wednesday against the Pirates.

“Anything we can possibly do to preserve our arms for the end of the year is important,” Maddon said “I think it’s being proven throughout the industry right now. The biggest trick is to get the sixth guy that you like. Most teams are clamoring to get four and five. We’ve got five that we like; now we’re working on six, and hopefully it works that way that you can do something.”

Notes: From Saturday against the Dodgers through Tuesday against the Pirates, the Cubs will face four consecutive rookies as opposing starters, all of whom began in the year in the minors. Sunday’s opponent, Brock Stewart (five scoreless innings), started the season in advanced Class A. The four combined for 23 career starts before facing the Cubs in this stretch. … Maddon said setup ace Hector Rondon (triceps) is progressing well, without pain when playing catch but “we’re going to play that one slow.” … MVP candidate Kris Bryant had two of the Cubs’ four hits Sunday, including a leadoff double in the sixth. He’s 20-for-41 (.488) in his last 10 games, with seven homers, three doubles and 16 RBIs. … Stirring from slumber? When long-slumping Jason Heyward singled in his first two at-bats Sunday, it gave him hits in five consecutive at-bats going back to Friday night. He’s 8-for-23 (.348) since returning from a four-day spell on the bench. Heyward’s hardest-hit ball of the day Sunday just missed becoming the biggest hit of the game — when Dodger first baseman Adrian Gonzalez dove to catch the line smash, stranding Bryant at third in the sixth inning.