Joe Maddon welcomes pressure on young Cubs
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SAN FRANCISCO — Sports Illustrated cover jinx? Bring it on, manager Joe Maddon said.
The scrutiny of ESPN’s klieg lights Wednesday against the San Francisco Giants and Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers?
Bring it on. Bring it on.
‘‘Love it, absolutely love it,’’ said Maddon, whose red-hot Cubs have earned the attention of the baseball world and a regional Sports Illustrated cover featuring the celebration at the plate after rookie Kris Bryant’s walk-off home run Monday against the Cleveland Indians. ‘‘I really liked [reliever Pedro Strop] shadowing KB coming down [the third-base line]. I thought it was pretty cool.’’
And it’s not even September.
‘‘I love the fact that the games are meaningful,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘I love the fact that people are going to use the word ‘pressure’ a lot
and ‘scrutiny.’ I think it’s great. It’s good for our guys. We anticipated being there this year and years to come. You’ve got to get used to it at some point.
‘‘And it’s a good thing. If you want to run away from the word ‘pressure,’ then you’re never going to be in a significant moment in your life.’’
And if the SI jinx takes up residence next to a 70-year-old goat?
‘‘All those jinxes, they’re all fabricated anyway, right?’’ said Maddon, who admitted he was wearing another pair of unwashed socks during the Cubs’ five-game winning streak. ‘‘But it makes for good writing and good reading, so I’m all for it.
‘‘I think it’s kind of neat that we’re on the cover, for the fans and for our players and what’s going on right now. It’s kind of a significant moment.’’
Need for speed
One day after adding baserunning threat Quintin Berry on a minor-league deal, the Cubs did the same with utility player Emilio Bonifacio, who stole 18 bases in 69 games for them last season before being dealt to the Atlanta Braves at the trade deadline.
Bonifacio, 30, was released by the White Sox last week after hitting .167 in 47 games. He and Berry are expected to join the Cubs when rosters expand in September, and they’ll be eligible for playoff rosters.
‘‘It’s something I had the privilege of having when I managed the Rays,’’ Maddon said of a designated speed guy/pinch runner. ‘‘You’ve seen it more recently with the Royals last year and what they were able to do in some of those moments.’’
Shortstop Addison Russell was out of the starting lineup for the second consecutive game after taking a brief leave for the birth of his son. He was expected to arrive by game time and be available off the bench. Russell got Monday off because of sore groin.
‘‘I’d been talking about getting him off his feet anyway,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘With the baby and a little bit of tightness, we got him off his feet. I’m glad it just was that, and now we’ll take advantage of the moment.’’