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Rondon finding comfort in ninth inning

Schwarber gives Maddon flexibility behind the plate

CHICAGO -- Hector Rondon, who lost the closer's job earlier in the season, has a save in nine of his last 10 outings. So, does that mean he's the Cubs' closer again?

"I prefer not saying anything because he's doing so well," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Sunday of the right-hander, who picked up his 21st save Saturday.

"You'll probably see Ronny pitch a lot in the ninth inning, but I don't want to put any other burden on his mind."

Maddon has also been pleased with Justin Grimm, who has a 1.64 ERA in 14 games since the All-Star break and has not given up a run in 6 2/3 innings over eight games this month. Maddon said one of the things he looks for is a "middle-inning closer" type, and Grimm could fill that role.

Kyle Schwarber has not caught since Aug. 6, making seven starts in left field. Maddon had considered having Schwarber catch Friday when Kyle Hendricks started against the White Sox but opted for David Ross.

• Schwarber rises to the challenge with game on the line

"I'm looking at him, and watching him play left field and just putting more and more on his plate, I didn't want to do it," Maddon said of the rookie. "I do want to get him back there when we're going to need him. ... I'm not as motivated or concerned about it as I would've been, plus David is doing a great job back there and [Miguel] Montero is back. The fact [Schwarber] can play [left] really opens all that up."

Maddon was pleased with how the rookie handled having a bottle thrown at him Saturday.

"It looks like he's done it before somehow -- tough crowds at Indiana University," Maddon joked about Schwarber's college days. "I liked the way he handled the whole moment."

Video: [email protected]: Schwarber singles in Russell for the lead

• Three-time All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro made his third straight start at second base on Sunday. Has Maddon seen enough of the infielder at second to feel comfortable with him there?

"He is ready to roll," Maddon said. "His look yesterday before the game was as good as I've seen all year. ... He cares, and I'll defend anyone who cares."

Castro wasn't able to make a tag at second base on Saturday but Maddon said it's something he needs more time to work on.

Video: [email protected]: Castro picks ground ball to nab Eaton

• Is Maddon superstitious?

"I'm just a little 'stitious, not superstitious," Maddon said. "I'll concede to one thing, I've worn the same pair of socks for many days. To and from the ballpark. They're camo."

He said the socks absorb sweat well, so they don't smell too bad.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.
Read More: Chicago Cubs, Starlin Castro, Hector Rondon, Kyle Schwarber, Justin Grimm