What a difference a year makes for Maddon

January 16th, 2016
Cubs manager Joe Maddon certainly knows how to make an entrance. (AP)

CHICAGO -- Joe Maddon was late for his question-and-answer session with fans at the Cubs Convention on Saturday, and when he did arrive, it was clear the impact the manager has had in one year.

Emcee Len Kasper had started the panel by asking the Cubs' coaching staff what they'd learned about Maddon. But before pitching coach Chris Bosio could actually start, Maddon arrived, and he was greeted by a standing ovation from the packed ballroom at the Sheraton Grand Hotel. Rock star, indeed.

"I learned how to make an entrance," Bosio then quipped.

At his first Cubs Convention a year ago, Maddon was asked about his lineup, who will play third base in 2015, and his Twitter account. On Saturday, fans wanted to know what bike Maddon rides -- he has a big tire Trek Farley and a light Hybrid Giant -- and his favorite episode of "The Office" (it's Jan's enhancement).

Not only did Maddon win the National League Manager of the Year Award last year, but he's now "the most interesting manager the Cubs have ever had," at least according to one fan. Maddon said he's learned about the "severe interest" in the team, and he's OK with that.

"Of course, you're going to have to get on us once in a while," Maddon said of Cubs aficionados. "It's every fan's right to freak out at the appropriate moment. But at the end of the day, good or bad, you're with us. And that's the separator with this particular group of fans."

The first baseball question Maddon got was about Kyle Schwarber's role. Will he catch? Will he play outfield? Maddon deferred to catching coach Mike Borzello and outfield coach Dave Martinez.

"As far as I'm concerned, he's a catcher," Borzello said. "I'm not letting that go until Joe or Theo [Epstein, president of baseball operations] say he's not a catcher."

Martinez has a different point of view.

"I'm the outfield coach, and I want Schwarber in the outfield," Martinez said. "[Schwarber] wants to do both."

Fans should know Schwarber has been asking new Cub Jason Heyward about playing the outfield during the Convention.

But what does Schwarber's "daddy" think? Cubs assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske, 38, apparently has been mistaken often for the 22-year-old slugger.

"Where does 'Dad' want to see him play?" Maddon said.

"I want him to hit left-handed and I want him to hit home runs," Hinske said.

And that's OK with everybody.