Cubs manager Joe Maddon on the hot seat?
‘‘That is actually dumb,’’ Maddon said when he was asked during his weekly radio appearance Tuesday about a USA Today report that suggested he might be fired with a year left on his contract if the Cubs don’t go deep into the playoffs.
‘‘I’m doing the radio gig today, and all of a sudden I get this question — which I had no idea was forthcoming — and I tried to answer it as honestly as I possibly could,’’ Maddon said later. ‘‘I don’t get it; I don’t understand. I’m under contract. I’m very happy with what I’m doing. And when the time’s appropriate, I’m sure we’ll discuss it further.’’
Maddon has been criticized at times for his game decisions, notably in the last two games of the 2016 World Series. And the Cubs looked lifeless during the first half last season before surging in the second.
They also have the best record in the majors since Maddon took over in 2015, have been to three consecutive National League Championship Series, won their first championship in more than a century and are in position to achieve a franchise first if they reach a fourth consecutive postseason this year.
‘‘And people want to point fingers at him and fire him,’’ left-hander Jon Lester said, laughing. ‘‘We all know what he does. The front office knows what he does. And . . . that’s all that really matters.
‘‘With everything that’s gone on this year with us as a team [key injuries and roster turnover], we’ve still got the best record in the National League, and we’re playing good baseball. He’s obviously doing something right.’’
Maddon, 64, is in the fourth year of a five-year, $25 million contract that escalated to $6 million per year after the Cubs won the World Series, making him one of the three highest-paid managers in the majors.
‘‘Joe is a terrific leader and partner, and we are thrilled with his job performance the last four years,’’ president Theo Epstein said via text. ‘‘Since 2015, the Cubs have the most regular-season wins and the most postseason wins in all of baseball; it’s hard to have a better track record than that.
‘‘Joe is clearly in good standing with the organization. We are focused on trying to win another championship and will not address Joe’s contract status until there is reason to do so.’’
Maddon said he hopes to have his contract extended at some point, but he has no issue with the fact that it hasn’t been addressed by the front office yet.
‘‘It doesn’t matter to me when it’s resolved,’’ he said. ‘‘ . . . I believe the right things will be done.’’
After batting four times as the designated hitter for Class AAA Iowa on Monday, Kris Bryant (shoulder) started at third in his second rehab game and went 1-for-2 with an RBI single and two walks.
‘‘I haven’t heard [he experienced] soreness or stiffness,’’ Maddon said before the game. ‘‘We’ll know more [Tuesday] night, when he’s actually playing on the field a little bit more. It sounds like we’re on pretty good pace right now.
‘‘I think [Tuesday] is going to tell a lot about when he’s coming back.’’