CHICAGO -- Cubs players arrived in the clubhouse before Saturday's 5-3 win over Arizona to find blue jumpsuits hanging in their lockers in preparation for the team's latest theme trip.Players and staff will wear the NBA-style jackets and sweats on their bus rides during their upcoming trip to Philadelphia on
CHICAGO -- Cubs players arrived in the clubhouse before Saturday's 5-3 win over Arizona to find blue jumpsuits hanging in their lockers in preparation for the team's latest theme trip.
Players and staff will wear the NBA-style jackets and sweats on their bus rides during their upcoming trip to Philadelphia on Monday.
In typical Cubs fashion, there's also a little more to it. Each front-zip jacket features a number and nickname on the back. The nicknames range from simply "Trevor" for Trevor Cahill to "Reaper" for Justin Grimm. Matt Szczur's jacket reads "SZCZ-URRRRR."
Cubs manager Joe Maddon -- whose top reads "Joey" -- said the idea comes from Jon Lester and pitching coach Chris Bosio. The theme's official title is "The Jon Lester Tribute to the NBA Finals Road Trip."
"I plan to wear [the suit] as often as the weather permits," Maddon said.
Maddon likes balanced approach
The Cubs' run differential of plus-140 heading into Saturday was the best mark in baseball. By far.
The Red Sox own the game's second-best run differential at plus-68, but Maddon said he thinks it could get even better.
"I know our run differential is like, so good," Maddon said. "We haven't hit to our potential yet. We've scored runs, but it just comes down to physically beating on the baseball. We haven't done it as well as we can."
Jason Heyward, Chicago's No. 2 hitter, entered Saturday hitting .228. Jorge Soler is hitting .213 and others such as Anthony Rizzo (.246 with 12 home runs) have yet to truly find a consistent groove. But the Cubs have done it because of solid defense and astounding pitching.
Chicago's 2.55 team ERA leads the Majors and is on pace to be the best in a season since the Orioles had a 2.54 team ERA in 1972. Maddon said in an age where it's easy to focus on power hitting, it's important to build a well-balanced team.
"I like the liberal arts approach to playing baseball," Maddon said. "The more complete game is the kind of game that sustains itself over a long period of time."
On the farm
The Cubs named Class A South Bend outfielder Eloy Jimenez and Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach right-handed pitcher Trevor Clifton the organization's Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Month for May on Saturday.
Jimenez, 19, batted .364 (40-for-110) with eight doubles, seven homers, 17 runs scored and 23 RBIs in 28 games for South Bend in May.
Clifton, 21, went 3-1 with a 1.29 ERA (4 ER/28.0 IP) in five May starts, striking out 35 batters while walking just seven. He tossed three consecutive scoreless outings from May 12-24, allowing 11 hits in 17 innings. His 1.29 ERA and 35 strikeouts both ranked second-best in the Carolina League, while his three wins were tied for third most.
Cody Stavenhagen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.