ST. LOUIS – Sooner or later, Cubs manager Joe Maddon might have to come clean.
“No,” he said. “It’s that vile. I can’t do it.”
Maddon, of course, is talking about the inspirational words he says to Kyle Schwarber each time before the first-year leadoff man heads to the plate.
You know, like the “you go, we go” saying he used for two years with former leadoff man Dexter Fowler.
Except this one “is slightly X-rated so I can’t tell you,” Maddon said. “It’s not slightly X-rated. It’s totally X-rated. So I can’t publicly disclose.”
Schwarber is not disclosing either.
But whatever the *&#!%@!! it is, it seems to be working. Schwarber singled to right on the fourth pitch of the game against Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez Sunday night, and in his next at-bat worked the count to 3-1 before doubling into the right-center gap.
“So far it’s been working pretty well,” Maddon said even before the game. “He’s had a lot of good leadoff at-bats. He’s come up several times with runners in scoring position, when the 8-9-hole hitters have gotten on base. …
“It’s just something that I thought of. I thought it fit his personality, and he kind of likes it, so we do it.”
So what’s the clean version?
“There’s no way to clean it up and really get the point across,” he said.
Maybe we’ll have to wait for the T-shirt.
“That would sell on a T-shirt,” Maddon said, smiling, “if I could actually…”
Speaking of Schwarber …
The young slugger had an extra-wide horseshoe hanging in his locker for the opener, a gift from the crew of the famed Budweiser Clydesdales – in response to Schwarber’s special delivery of a baseball last week as the horses pulled their beer wagon alongside the Cubs’ spring stadium in Arizona.
The wagon was parked for unloading when Schwarber parked a batting practice homer over the protective netting along the street and hit one of the horses.
“I got him in the butt,” Schwarber said. “They put [the horseshoe] in my locker. I’m going to take it with me everywhere. Hopefully, it brings me some luck.”
His hits Sunday were the first of his career in April.
Considering he spent the spring of 2016 breaking windshields with BP homers and now is clobbering Clydesdales, what’s next?
“I don’t know where you go from there,” pitcher Kyle Hendricks said.
Notes: Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Sunday that right-hander Lance Lynn will start the third game of the series, Wednesday, against former Cardinal John Lackey. …Before Maddon decided to make his opening lineup an ode to Game 7, he had Jon Jay starting in center field and Ben Zobrist at second, he said. Javy Baez, the postseason hero for the Cubs and World Baseball Classic hero for Puerto Rico, was on the bench – where he’ll probably be again Tuesday. Maddon plans to use his best-fielding infielder strategically this season, even as he admits: “You could make the argument to play Javy at second base every day of the year.”