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Maddon confident in September blueprint

CHICAGO -- There are still 10 days before rosters expand and the Cubs begin calling up players to fill those spots. And manager Joe Maddon already has a plan in place for when that happens.

Granted, it's the same one he's used before. The approach, Maddon said, is a standard one that provides depth to areas he deems important. He isn't worried about overcrowding the clubhouse or bringing up a certain player unless that player fills a specific need. That's because when the roster grows to 40 men, he looks to add speed to his lineup, more arms for his bullpen and depth at catcher.

"It's pretty much my generic formula," Maddon said. "I don't just sit there and say, 'We need so and so,' but generically, those are the kind of things I think you need in September.

"You don't want to bring too many guys up, normally."

Chicago's lineup hasn't needed much tweaking this season, given its success in manufacturing runs. But that has come at a cost to Maddon, who has been unable to give regular starters -- such as Anthony Rizzo or Dexter Fowler -- a day off.

Given that Maddon has three catchers on his roster with the addition of Kyle Schwarber, and the Cubs traded for reliever Tommy Hunter, those concerns aren't as prominent. What's most important for September callups, Maddon says, is finding time to give those everyday players a day off.

"You may get a little heavy sometimes, based on the fact that you're in the hunt," he said. "But the other point that I'm very much about is that if it's a bad game, to get your regular people off your feet. Even if in a good game where you're in a blowout in a good way, to get your regular guys off their feet and get somebody else out there to give them that break they need."

With the Cubs leading the Giants by four games for the National League's second Wild Card spot entering Friday, that depth becomes all the more important. Maddon said he'd leave those decisions for September up to general manager Jed Hoyer or president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.

The callups in September can sometimes create a "disadvantage," as Maddon noted, since opposing teams have the luxury of matching up relievers based on who is at the plate. That means he has to spend more time thinking about "all the permutations possible from the other side."

It's a fine line between messing with a proven commodity and making sure that his system is healthy enough and deep enough to play in September. But given the way his team is performing, Maddon won't spend too much time worrying.

"I'm all about trying to make things work if something is necessary, but the way our guys stack up and the particular talents of our group, I like the way it plays," he said.

Worth noting

• On Friday, the Cubs announced a long-term Legacy Partnership with Toyota, establishing it as the official vehicle of the Cubs and Wrigley Field. Toyota will have its logo on the panel outside Wrigley Field at the corner of Clark and Addison Streets, along with its current sponsorship of in-game challenges.

"Toyota is a valued partner who has proudly supported the Chicago Cubs since our family's first season with the team, and we're honored to introduce them as a Legacy Partner today," said Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts. "Our Legacy Partners play a vital role as we make progress on our long-term goals of winning a World Series, preserving Wrigley Field and being a good neighbor."

Greg Garno is an associate reporter for
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