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Maddon couldn't care less about snarky jabs

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon knows he has his critics, but he couldn't care less.

He was full of confidence on the eve of Game 3, even with the Dodgers leading his Cubs two games to none after Justin Turner's Game 2 walk-off homer off emergency reliever John Lackey in the Dodgers' 4-1 win.

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CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon knows he has his critics, but he couldn't care less.

He was full of confidence on the eve of Game 3, even with the Dodgers leading his Cubs two games to none after Justin Turner's Game 2 walk-off homer off emergency reliever John Lackey in the Dodgers' 4-1 win.

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Maddon, who was pummeled for overusing closer Aroldis Chapman in the 2016 World Series, was a target again Sunday night, this time for not using his closer, Wade Davis, in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World.

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"Doesn't matter," Maddon said about the criticism. "First of all, social media, the moment I start worrying about that, I really need to retire. Second of all, that was all pre-determined [Sunday night]. Wade was not warming up to come into the game. Wade was probably just testing his arm at that point.

"We had talked about it before the game. … Wade knew that going into the game it was going to be [only in a save situation]. We caught the lead, he's in the game. So whatever the narrative is, it's really a false narrative. He was not coming into that game until we grabbed the lead. He was not going to pitch more than three outs. That's it."

Maddon was asked if Davis is heathy. He said he had just proven that point by throwing 44 pitches to save the Cubs' 9-8 victory over the Nationals last Thursday.

• Maddon explains why Cubs turned to Lackey

"Listen, this guy just did yeoman's kind of work -- I love that word -- in Washington, and was not prepared to go more than three outs,'' Maddon said. "I don't understand why that's difficult to understand. And furthermore, you have to also understand it wasn't the last game of the year or the second to the last game of the year.

"It was about winning eight more games. All these things are factors. So I really hope that you all understand that social media doesn't count at all. Twitter doesn't count at all. And really, as sportswriters, you should do a better job than relying on Twitter to write a story, quite frankly.''

Full transcript of Maddon's news conference

Video: The MLB Now questions Lackey's appearance in Game 2

Maddon said Lackey's big mistake was walking Chris Taylor in front of Turner, not giving up the game-winning homer to Turner.

"The key was the walk to the first guy, because the second guy hits anybody,'' Maddon said. "Turner has been that good this year. So trying to get through Taylor and, like I said, had we been able to do that and did not score, then John was going to pitch longer than that, and I felt good about that.

"Listen, it doesn't always work out as you plan it, but going into the game, if it got to that point, that's where I wanted us to be.''

Video: Nelson discusses Maddon's bullpen management in Gm 2

Weighing changes

Maddon said he is considering "one or two little nuance-type things'' with his lineup against Yu Darvish in Game 3. The most likely changes might involve Javier Baez, who is 0-for-19 in the postseason, or Jason Heyward, who is 2-for-15.

But Maddon found positive ways to spin their performances to this point. On Baez, Maddon pointed out how the young infielder had worked a walk against Rich Hill in his first plate appearance in Game 2.

"The one thing I loved was his walk in his first at-bat," Maddon said. "I really thought that would play better after that. … I've always utilized that phrase with hitters in the past. When you're walking, you're hitting, meaning that you normally have your strike zone in order.

"I really thought the walk was a good indicator of better things. I thought his at-bats after that were better, so hopefully that's the at-bat that sets it in motion in a positive direction.''

Video: NLCS Gm3: Maddon on changes to the Cubs' lineup

Maddon said that Heyward is valuable in ways that often don't appear in the box score, including some that are more subtle than his Gold Glove-caliber defense.

"He's a winner,'' he said. "He's been part of winning situations from the moment he's gotten to the big leagues. He has an impact on everybody on that bench, on that team during the course of the game somehow, some way. … When you're playing a game of baseball under these circumstances and he's not out there, it doesn't feel as good.''

Darvish has held right-handed hitters to a .194 batting average this season, compared to a .262 average vs. left-handers. That could influence Maddon to start lefty-hitting Alex Avila at catcher. He's 3-for-13 with a double and five walks off Darvish.

Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com.

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