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Jon Jay, a leader on and off the field, wants to remain a Cub

Jon Jay says he's really enjoyed his time with the Cubs. | Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Jon Jay gathered the team after the Cubs were swept by the Brewers early in September.

With their National League Central rivals closing in, the Cubs were feeling the pressure. Jay called the meeting to help get his teammates in the right mindset.

The Cubs closed out September with a 15-4 record after the get-together.

Jay’s leadership on and off the field was one of the main reasons the Cubs signed him to a one-year, $8 million deal. But the versatile outfielder’s future with the Cubs is uncertain.

If he had the chance, Jay would love to come back.


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“I love it here,’’ Jay said. ‘‘I cannot deny that. I absolutely love it here.

‘‘We’ll see what happens. But right now, I enjoy being with this group no matter what happens.

“This whole year has been a fun ride. . . . Everyone around here has been great since the moment I signed with this team. Starting from the top of the organization with ownership to the front office to the players. They really received me and made me feel like I was a part of this team.”

The Cubs were drawn to Jay because they wanted to fill the veteran void left by David Ross’ retirement, while adding some depth to their outfield after Dexter Fowler signed with the Cardinals.

But Jay would provide so much more than just his veteran leadership.

Jay, 32, warranted playing time and planted himself in manager Joe Maddon’s lineup or at least in the back of Maddon’s mind as someone he could trust off the bench.

“If I needed a son or a sidekick, I’d go for Jon Jay,” Maddon said in May.

With Fowler out of the picture, the Cubs put Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff spot. But that experiment backfired as Schwarber struggled at the plate.

The Cubs found themselves in search of a solid leadoff hitter.

They rolled the dice on 10 more — including a short (yet productive) stint by slugger Anthony Rizzo — but it was Jay who seemed most adept in the No. 1 spot. He started 51 games as the Cubs’ leadoff man.

Off the bench, Jay’s production was just as impressive. He was the fourth-best pinch hitter in the majors with a .341 batting average and eight RBI.

“His batting average and stuff is high, but the way he’s playing does not surprise,” Maddon said. “He always works a good at-bat. He’s never in trouble. He gets to two strikes, and the at-bat is not over. Sometimes, he does his best work with two strikes.

“You watch him on the bench and how he interacts, and I watch the conversations, even when he talks to me. He brings a lot. He knows what it’s like to be on a championship-caliber team, and he’s just wonderful to be around.”

And it’s no secret Jay’s teammates feel the same way.

“It’s always good when your teammates and your peers respect you,” Jay said. “That’s what life is all about.

‘‘Life isn’t about all the money and all these different things. It’s about respecting people and treating people the right way. And that’s what I try to do.”

Follow me on Twitter @madkenney.