It’s fair to say Jon Jay’s relationship with Cubs fans in the Wrigley Field bleachers has improved since his days as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.
“That was a little different,” Jay said. “They didn’t say such nice things, as expected.”
Jay’s switch from Cardinal red to Cubbie blue is not the only reason fans have warmed to him. He entered Monday with hits in five of his last 10 at-bats and had reached base safely in eight of his first nine starts.
Joe Maddon rewarded Jay with his 10th start as the Cubs returned home from a nine-game road trip. The 32-year-old batted ninth and played center field as Jason Heyward shifted to right field.
Maddon said Jay’s tenacity at the plate stood out to him in the first month. The Cubs signed Jay to a one-year deal after a broken right forearm limited him to 90 games with the Padres in 2016.
“He always works a good at-bat,” Maddon said. “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.”
Jay did not bite when asked whether he believed he could or should be starting regularly.
“I’m at the point in my career where I think I can still contribute a lot,” Jay said. “That’s all I ask. This is a great team here with a great chance to win. That’s why I wanted to come here. I’m just staying ready for whenever my name is called.”
Right-hander Kyle Hendricks welcomed the return of pitching coach Chris Bosio, who missed last week to attend to a personal matter.
“‘Bos has always been that steady influence on me, just having the same voice,” Hendricks said. “He’s really good individualizing each pitcher and knowing what your cues and tics are. When he leaves, we definitely have ample help with [bullpen coach] Lester Strode and other guys filling in, and they know us really well, but having his presence around and his voice helps a ton.”
Would Hendricks ever consider becoming a pitching coach?
“I don’t know, I doubt it,” Hendricks said. “I love talking pitching and I love everything that has to do with it, but being a pitching coach? That’s a tough job, man. That’s a lot to do, a lot of guys to manage. You’ve got to commend him for it. I don’t know if I could do it, honestly.”
Javy Baez started at shortstop for the second time this season in place of Addison Russell, who received the day off.
Maddon said he would start Baez at second base Tuesday with Russell back at shortstop.
“I thought Addison really needed a day just to break, and that’s it,” Maddon said. “It’s a tough trip when you get in at 5 in the morning after you’ve played at 8 at night [in Boston].”
Follow me on Twitter @tcmusick.