Kyle Schwarber was out early Saturday afternoon getting some extra swings in with hitting coach John Mallee. Joining them was manager Joe Maddon.
Maddon said he was out on the field to do something else and saw the two working and “wanted to mosey on over and really pay attention.” It wasn’t to interfere with Mallee, but just add another positive voice for the struggling slugger.
“I just wanted to watch personally and reinforce a lot of it. That’s pretty much what it was – reinforcing what they were doing,” Maddon said. “I tend to be vocal as a hitting coach, and I’m always there when they do something positively, and even if I added that to the day that would be a good thing. More than anything just to watch what they already were doing, and I liked it.”
What they were doing was working on shorter movements in the box for Schwarber, who hit fifth and entered Saturday 1 for 7 after returning from Class AAA Iowa. As for the location of Saturday’s work, Maddon said the drills were done on the field instead of in a cage so Schwarber could see the results of his swings.
“Everything looked really good,” Maddon said.
The other Kyle
Starter Kyle Hendricks will make a rehab start Monday at Class AA Tennessee. Hendricks has been out since June 5 with right hand tendinitis, but could return to the rotation soon.
“Once we get that done and accomplished and he’s well we’ll be able then to try to figure out the post all-star break rotation stuff,” Maddon said.
Hendricks is 4-3 with a 4.09 ERA.
Ian Happ hit in the fourth spot of the Cubs’ lineup for the 11th time, and Maddon once again effusively praised the 22-year-old rookie. Maddon has been impressed with Happ’s athleticism, his versatility, his fielding, and his ability to recover from slumps and slow stretches.
“He’s a better baseball player than I had envisioned coming into this thing,” Maddon said. “I thought he was more of a bat. I think that’s how he was advertised coming up, but he’s a really skillful player and he does a lot of things well.”
Happ seems to be taking everything in stride, including his spot in the order.
“I’m doing anything I can to help the team,” Happ said, “and if that’s hitting in the middle of the lineup, fantastic.”
All-Star Game strategy
On Tuesday, Maddon will manage the NL All-Star team but hasn’t yet figured out a lineup. He said he’s thinking about having a reliever pitch an inning between starters, to allow starters more time to warm up.
And though the game doesn’t determine home-field advantage in the World Series anymore, Maddon said it’s still important to get a result, so if the game is close he’ll hold a pitcher back for extra innings.
This and that
Maddon said Mike Montgomery, who lasted only 2 1/3 innings in his start Thursday, will be available out of the bullpen Sunday.