The discord between Cubs manager Joe Maddon and ESPN analyst Alex Rodriguez apparently has been laid to rest.
They met before the Cubs’ game Sunday night against the Nationals at Wrigley Field to discuss a verbal dustup that took place after Rodriguez suggested on a broadcast two weeks ago that there was a lack of support in the clubhouse for Yu Darvish while he recovers from an arm injury.
Maddon fired back at Rodriguez a couple of days later during an interview on The Score (670-AM), calling Rodriguez’s comments “contrived” and “irresponsible.”
On Sunday, Maddon and Rodriguez cleared the air, both saying it was a productive discussion, and Maddon went as far as to suggest a friendship could develop.
“Alex and I had a really nice discussion; I felt good about it,” Maddon said. “Hopefully, he felt the same. We talked openly about it and under those circumstances, for me, it’s normally one of those things that you speak in a candid manner to one another, and you move on from there. I really believe through that conversation that we have a chance to become pretty good friends.”
For his part, Rodriguez said it was a “very positive conversation. What’s great about this is that we all have the same interest, to grow the game [and] to highlight stories as objectively as we can.”
Rodriguez was then asked if he would change anything about the situation.
“No,” he said. “My job is to say it fairly and objectively, and I have over 25 years in the game, and I’m going to call it as I see them. We don’t always have to agree on everything, but I do have a lot of respect for Joe and obviously the Cubs’ organization and I have for a long time, and that hasn’t changed.”
Maddon made it clear that he will always defend his group.
“My job, I believe, is to protect my brood, quite frankly,” Maddon said. “It’s no different than being a parent.”
After the game, Maddon refuted a report that said the conversation was heated.
A day after getting his 1,000th career hit during the Cubs’ 9-4 loss to the Nationals, Anthony Rizzo took early batting practice, first hitting off a tee and then a pitcher.
“I’ve been fortunate to pretty much stay healthy my entire career so far,” Rizzo said. “Obviously, it’s a nice milestone.”
Rizzo remembered his first hit, which came as a 21-year-old with the Padres.
“Left-center, Livan Hernandez, a triple, 10-15 pounds lighter, a couple of years younger,” Rizzo said with a smile.
“It’s not easy to get a hit in this game ever, so to be able to do that is very special.”
Talk it out
The Cubs’ pitching staff has plenty of new faces with the recent additions of Jesse Chavez, Jorge De La Rosa and Cole Hamels. That means catcher Willson Contreras has had to quickly develop a rapport with the veteran hurlers.
“It’s not too hard,” Contreras said of finding common ground. “They have a lot of experience; they know what to do. We just have to stay in communication like we’ve been doing the last couple of weeks. My communication has been really good. They’re open to try ideas, and they listen to what I have to say. Communication is really important in this game, especially in these last two months.”
Reliever Anthony Bass (right mid-thoracic sprain) was activated off the 10-day disabled list and outrighted to Class AAA Iowa. The Cubs’ 40-man roster stands at 39.