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Cubs notebook: Maddon going with 6-man rotation on trip

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 4: John Lackey #41 of the Chicago Cubs pitches in the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on September 4, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 607684639

by Toni Ginnetti

For the Sun-Times

The best rotation in the majors will be stretched into a six-man unit in the coming days so it’s rested and ready for October.

Kyle Hendricks, Jason Hammel and Mike Montgomery will start in the three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers that opens a nine-game trip. A day off Thursday will give Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey six days off between starts before they return against the Houston Astros.

Manager Joe Maddon said the aim is to keep guys fresh, as he has done with position players and relievers.

“Some of the regulars might not like that, but in the latter part of the year and hopefully playoffs, they’ll feel better.”

Having left-hander Montgomery available makes a difference, Maddon said.

“If you have a guy you like in that 6-hole, it makes it easier to do,” he said. “For now, it makes all the sense in the world.”

Being effective in the postseason outweighs personal goals some might have about innings pitched in the regular season, he added.

“Guys are trained to think a certain way, and I get it, but at the end of the day, the goal is the World Series.”

Unrestrained

All-purpose infielder Javy Baez plays at one speed — all-out — as he has shown on the basepaths and on defense. It’s the trait Maddon loves — and fears.

“You’re talking about a naturally instinctive player,” Maddon said. “I would never want to coach the aggressiveness or instincts out of a player. He sees things not everybody else does. He has that chip.

“Sometimes it can get him in trouble. He processes things so quickly he might choose the wrong door. But you take the good with the bad. He’s made more good choices than bad this year.”

The concern is that Baez might get hurt if he’s too aggressive on the bases or in the field.

“I’m leery because he’s been hurt in the past, but as he gets older, he might be able to control that better,” Maddon said. “As he gets older, we’ll probably see less of that. It’s a maturation process.”

Baez leads the team with 12 stolen bases (caught three times), and his 12 errors (in 119 games) are tied with Kris Bryant (133 games) for most on the team.

Roster moves ahead

The minor-league season ends today for Class AAA Iowa, but several players might be brought up later this week.

Reliever Hector Rondon also will be activated from the disabled list this week.

Follow me on Twitter @toniginnetti.