Cubs pleased with Gore's speed, prep work

Role player impressing Maddon; Bryant sits to rest shoulder

September 23rd, 2018

CHICAGO -- has exceptional speed, and it's something the Cubs would like to take advantage of.
On Saturday night, Gore entered as a pinch-runner at second after 's leadoff double and advanced on a passed ball. But the key moment came when he scored on Albert Almora Jr.s grounder to White Sox third baseman , helping the Cubs secure an 8-3 victory.
"Gore is like a field-goal kicker with no time left -- he's just got to do it," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "To this point, he's been very successful. When he first arrived, I told him, 'Don't be worried about making mistakes, just do what you do.' I'm seeing him get progressively more comfortable. He studies well. I didn't know that until he got here. He studies pitchers. He doesn't just show up and be fast."
Gore, whom the Cubs acquired in August in a trade with the Royals, is usually at the ballpark early to do his homework.
"That's what I do early in the morning, normally before everybody gets here," Gore said. "I'll look at pitchers and see what [delivery] times they have. I'll put a fast guy at first, like Dee Gordon or or somebody who has the same speed as me almost. If I can see what they do with those guys, they'll probably do the exact same thing with me."
Gore entered Sunday 5-for-5 in stolen bases with the Cubs, so it's working.
"That's one thing I'm really big on," Gore said of his prep work. "I don't want to get out there and if it's a really, really critical situation and be totally shocked if he does something different. A lot of pitchers do the slide step, but they're not comfortable with it. Even if I see the slide step, I have to see if they throw a strike. If they throw a ball with it, I'm like, 'I can just wait you out.' You're not going to keep throwing balls and walk a guy."
If he could, Gore said he would like to sit down with the Indians' and pick his brain to see what keys he looks for.
The Cubs lead the National League Central by 2 1/2 games with seven left to play. Gore has seen how speed players can have an impact in the postseason. He'd like to be a part of that, but the Cubs aren't talking about playoff rosters until they actually secure a spot.
It has to be a challenge since everyone in the ballpark knows Gore is going to run as soon as he gets on base.
"You have to be fearless," Gore said. "You never know what's going to happen if you don't take the chance. I feel you have to be fearless and [the catcher] still has to make a really good throw. The catcher has to be in sync, even the shortstop or second baseman have to be in sync for it all to work. I'd rather take my chances."
Bryant rests with shoulder fatigue
needed a breather and did not start on Sunday to rest his left shoulder, which sidelined him for all of August.
"His shoulder is a little bit fatigued -- not hurting, just fatigue," Maddon said. "You want to be proactive. You could wait until [Monday] but if something were to happen today, I'd feel badly about that. Talking to him, listening to his body, I just wanted to give him a day off."
Bryant is slashing .275/.346/.406 with 27 strikeouts in 20 games since returning from the disabled list.
"I haven't had any pain or any of that, which is great," Bryant said after the Cubs' 6-1 victory Sunday. "I just have to stay on top of my shoulder program, which we are doing."
He still did all of his workout on Sunday, hitting in the cages.
Bryant will be back in the lineup this week during the Cubs' final homestand. They will enter Monday with a magic number of five to clinch the NL Central title.
"Obviously, we still have some work left to do," Bryant said. "The Brewers, they're a good team and they keep winning and playing hard. Hopefully we can go on a nice run of wins here and hopefully do it in front of our fans. We have to try not to look at the scoreboard and just worry about what we're doing, and I think we'll be fine."
Strop update
(left hamstring) is playing catch but has yet to throw off the mound. The reliever has been sidelined since Sept. 13 and was optimistic that he could pitch this week.
"He's surprising himself," Maddon said. "He's not feeling anything negative after he throws or moves or jogs. He's progressing pretty good."