PITTSBURGH – As Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant talked to reporters near his locker Monday night, teammate Chris Coghlan arrived at the next locker over and started to chime in.
“I didn’t see anything here when I came in,” Coghlan said.
“I got it,” Bryant said, laughing.
Turns out Bryant, who had been stuck on 99 RBIs since Wednesday, promised Coghlan before the game he could have all the cash in Bryant’s wallet if he scored for Bryant’s 100th RBI.
When Bryant hit his 39th homer of the season in the sixth inning of Monday night’s 12-2 win over the Pirates, it was leadoff man Coghlan who had singled just ahead of the homer. In other words, No. 100.
“I owe him some money,” Bryant said without much conviction in his voice, nor was it clear whether he actually had much cash on hand in the wallet.
“I’ll take a credit card,” Coghlan cracked.
More seriously, Bryant admitted he may have been pressing in recent games.
“Just thinking back to last year ending on 99, I didn’t want that two years in a row,” he said. “But I just reminded myself I’m a completely different player than last year. Sometimes when it doesn’t come right away you start trying harder and it never comes to you, and then it just happens out of the blue. I’m very happy that’s over. I don’t need to talk about it any more.”
Insight into Maddon’s managerial style and/or genius: In the middle of Hendricks’ start, Maddon approached the right-hander in the dugout to ask about his alma mater.
Just what is Dartmouth’s nickname anyway?
“I told him the Big Green,” Hendricks said. “And that was it. He’s like, `OK,’ and he walked away. I still don’t know why.”
Hendricks wound up pitching six scoreless innings.
Part of the challenge Maddon faces in this team clinching earlier than any team he’s managed is the way he’ll stagger his A-team late-inning relief crew.
With starting pitchers Kyle Hendricks (Monday, Sunday), Jake Arrieta (Wednesday) and Jon Lester (Saturday) chasing individual accomplishments – including potential Cy Young candidacies – Maddon is trying to keep closer Aroldis Chapman and top setup men Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop fresh for those games.
“If I can keep these guys back for those days, and still be able to pitch them often enough [to be playoff ready], I will,” Maddon said. “If we can’t I won’t.
“But these other guys are playing for something a little bit more significant. I don’t know if it’s going to work out that way, but it’s just the thought.”
October Chapman plan
Maddon said he’s open to using triple-digit closer Chapman for more than three outs to close a game in the playoffs – even though the veteran closer said the first week with the club he’s not comfortable going more than one inning for a save.
“At this moment I would say four outs [is possible],” Maddon said. “It just depends onteh magnitude of the game, what’s going on and where we’re at. If our guys are rested, I’m good with Ronny or Strop or C.J. [Edwards] getting it to him in the ninth inning.
“But you don’t leave anything on the table by not utilizing him if it’s absolutely necessary. That would be a conversation he and I would have before the game.”