Resting Russell, Bryant part of Cubs' plan
NEW YORK -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon held second baseman Addison Russell out of the starting lineup Wednesday to provide the scuffling rookie with some time to rest his mind. But as the season progresses, Maddon said he plans on sitting Russell more often to preserve the youngster's body. He said off-days for Russell will be common and necessary, given his inexperience with the Major League workload.
Russell did enter the Cubs' 2-0, 11-inning win in the 10th as a pinch-hitter and remained in the game at second base. He walked and grounded out.
"We're planning on playing several more months and one extra month," Maddon said. "For guys that have never done it before, it will just smack you in the face. Now is the time to really be proactive regarding how you work with those guys."
It could be your run-of-the-mill slump that Russell is going through at the moment. Russell has three hits in his last 28 at-bats and has driven in just one run since June 18. Or it could be that Russell is tired. Maddon knows that will be the case more often than not going forward as Russell creeps up on his career highs in games played.
Russell, 21, has never played more than 110 games in a professional season. He reached that career high in 2013, in the Athletics organization. Then he played just 68 games in 2014. He's at 72 games played between Triple-A and the Majors this season after debuting with Chicago in late April.
"I think it's important to be proactive regarding time off," Maddon said. "You get an active, more productive player. I really believe that."
Maddon said he is planning a similar schedule for rookie third baseman Kris Bryant, who's played in all 68 games since his callup April 17. Bryant played 138 games in the Minors last year after just 36 in 2013, his first professional season.
"I believe we'll get more offense out of him by resting him on occasion," Maddon said. "If you don't do it then his role in the lineup is less impactful because he won't do as much."