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Cubs’ Joe Maddon on protesting students: ‘You’ve got to listen to them’

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Back home in Chicago and throughout the country, students left their classrooms Wednesday to have their numbers counted and their voices heard on National Walkout Day. They called for action against gun violence and marked the passing of one month since the mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school.

They had a supporter in Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who expressed a desire to get more involved with the issue of gun violence in schools.

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“We all should,” Maddon said. “They’re definitely on the right track. Hopefully, politicians will pay more attention to this right now. I know [about] the more recent position that has come from the White House, but you get this level of attention from this many kids — who are our future — you’ve got to listen to them. And any school that’s against their kids protesting, getting out with the right to protest, I don’t quite understand that.”

Cubs manager Joe Maddon offered words of supports to protesting students on National Walkout Day. | Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

The walkouts were timed for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 victims who were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which is Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s alma mater. An event involving the team and the school is being planned for when the Cubs are in Florida to open the regular season against the Marlins.

Pain-free and water-logged

Just how bad is the hamstring situation Javy Baez is dealing with? How blinding is the pain? How dire is the outlook?

“I didn’t even get hurt,” the Cubs second baseman said with a wry smile on Wednesday, Day 6 of his shelving since experiencing tightness in his left hamstring during a game. “It was just cramping. I was dehydrated and they just decided to give me a few days. I’ve just been getting water in my system.”

Baez gestured at a cooler full of drinks a few feet from his locker in the team’s spring clubhouse and lamented, “They took all the sodas from my fridge. I’ve got no other choice now.”

Baez has tested his left leg with running and other exercises and proclaimed himself good to go. He hopes to take batting practice Thursday and be in the lineup for Friday’s home game against the Diamondbacks or Saturday’s game at the White Sox.

Ace vs. Aces

While the Cubs took on the Royals Wednesday in Surprise, Jon Lester pitched for Class AAA Iowa against the Reno Aces at the Diamondbacks’ spring complex. With Willson Contreras as his battery mate, Lester threw 5 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits and four runs (three earned) on 89 pitches. Alec Mills took Lester’s turn in the rotation against the Royals.

Follow me on Twitter @slgreenberg.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com