Cubs beat Angels 9-4 in former manager Joe Maddon’s homecoming at Sloan Park

Ian Happ kept the heat on the battle for centerfield with a diving catch in the first and a home run in the third.

SHARE Cubs beat Angels 9-4 in former manager Joe Maddon’s homecoming at Sloan Park

Ian Happ makes a diving catch in centerfield for the first out of the game against the Angels on Monday.

John Antonoff photo

CUBS (ss) 9, ANGELS 4 / A’S 5, CUBS (ss) 2

Not your average Joe

Former Cubs manager Joe Maddon made his first appearance in front of Cubs fans since his firing after five winning seasons that included the historic championship and was greeted with a warm ovation from the crowd and countless hugs and smiles from Cubs players and coaches. “It’s very comfortable,” he said. “You talk about wonderful memories. It was five years, but it was a very eventful five years. Nothing to lament. It was wonderful. It was life-altering for me and my family to be part of this organization, the way I was treated.”

Center of attention

Ian Happ struck the latest blow in what’s turning into the best job battle in camp, making a diving catch for the first out of the game and later driving his first homer of the spring over the wall in left-center for the Cubs’ first run in the third. He and Albert Almora Jr. are trading haymakers almost daily in a fight for the center-field job. Manager David Ross said they have a chance to earn a share of the job if this keeps up, whether it would be a true platoon or not.

Making a pitch

Alec Mills, a fifth-starter challenger who likely will make the roster as a long reliever if he doesn’t win a starting job, extended his scoreless start to the spring to three appearances and six innings with three hitless innings against the A’s in the nightcap. Mills, who is out of options, struck out three and walked one.

Injury update

Pitching prospect Manuel Rodriguez, a high-velocity right-hander, underwent an MRI exam Monday for the biceps injury that forced him out of the game Sunday. Results are expected Tuesday.

Kimbrel watch

Closer Craig Kimbrel threw a bullpen session in his final prep work for his Cactus League debut, scheduled for Wednesday against the Reds in Goodyear.

On deck

Cubs at Rockies, Scottsdale, 2:10 p.m. Tuesday, MSN, Jose Quintana vs. Ashton Goudeau.

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