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Sore left calf causes Almora to exit early

Maddon likes potential combo of young OF, Jay in CF
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Cubs' Albert Almora Jr., who hit a grand slam Sunday, had to leave Monday's 13-10 victory over the Angels after playing one inning in center field because of left calf soreness. Almora fouled a ball off his left leg Feb. 28, and it's been tender since then.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon likes the potential of his center-field combination of Almora and Jon Jay.

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Cubs' Albert Almora Jr., who hit a grand slam Sunday, had to leave Monday's 13-10 victory over the Angels after playing one inning in center field because of left calf soreness. Almora fouled a ball off his left leg Feb. 28, and it's been tender since then.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon likes the potential of his center-field combination of Almora and Jon Jay.

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"It's a pretty nice center field, those two guys," Maddon said Monday. "Jon Jay is outstanding -- I've been a latent Jon Jay fan over the last couple years. Combined, they're going to be an outstanding center field."

Almora has shined on defense this spring, and Maddon has seen improvements in his work with the hitting coaches.

Video: CHC@TEX: Almora Jr. robs Mazara with sliding grab

"More than anything, what makes [Almora] play right now is the adjustments he made in his swing, where it's a much more functional big league swing and there's more power in it," Maddon said.

• Speaking of outfielders, it's a big spring for Matt Szczur, who is vying for a spot on the Cubs' bench.

"It's not an easy fit but he understands the competition for that role," Maddon said. "We talked about it straight up. He's a man's man, Matty is. It's all straight up, he knows what's going on, and he's done really well."

Does Szczur's football background help at all?

"I think he's the best wide receiver among the group," Maddon said. "If we want to work him with the Bears in some way, he'd have the best opportunity to succeed."

• The Cubs will play a "B" game Thursday at 10 a.m. MT at Sloan Park against the Angels. Chicago plays host to Seattle in Mesa that day in a Cactus League game.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Chicago Cubs, Albert Almora Jr.