MILWAUKEE -- While the Cubs and Brewers battle atop the National League Central standings, Chicago manager Joe Maddon did his best to keep this week's three-game series at Miller Park in perspective.
"It's Monday. It's Monday in June," Maddon said. "Every game is the biggest game of the year, regardless of who you're playing."
The Cubs still have work to do with runners in scoring position and on the mound, Maddon said, if they want to repeat as division champs.
"We want to be in first place at the end of the year," Maddon said. "I think the trap with any professional team, especially in our league that plays 162 times a year, you go overboard on emphasis. It's only going to bite you in the butt. I'd rather we attack this game like any other."
The Cubs ranked 12th in the National League with runners in scoring position entering Monday's game in Milwaukee.
"We haven't really achieved the level of success that we're going to in driving in runs with people in scoring position," Maddon said. "You know it's going to happen, you know it's going to happen. They talk to each other all the time."
Pitcher Jonathan Lester said he senses a similiar feel this season to 2016 when the Cubs won the World Series.
"I like the defense. I'm into the defense," Maddon said. "There's a tightness about the group, a closeness. I'm not saying last year wasn't like that, but this group is trending more in the '16 direction in regard to interacting. The one thing that would make me extremely pleased or happier is continuing on defense. We fed so much off our defense in '16, and we're doing that more recently again."
• Yu Darvish, on the disabled list because of inflammation in his right triceps, played catch on Monday in Chicago. If all goes well, he will throw his first bullpen session since going on the disabled list on Tuesday at Miller Park. The Cubs don't expect Darvish to return until after the All-Star break.
C.J. Edwards, on the DL since May 30 with inflammation in his right shoulder, was scheduled to play catch on Tuesday for the first time since he was sidelined.
• The Cubs added a fresh arm on Monday, calling up right-hander Anthony Bass from Triple-A Iowa and optioning reliever Cory Mazzoni. To make room on the 40-man roster, Eddie Butler (groin) was placed on the 60-day disabled list.
Bass, 30, is 0-1 with three saves and a 2.28 ERA in 18 relief appearances for Iowa this season. In his last 10 games since May 6, he has a 1.46 ERA, giving up two earned runs over 12 1/3 innings. Bass has pitched in parts of six Major League seasons with the Padres (2011-13), Astros ('14) and Rangers ('15, '17).
Mazzoni, 28, was 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA in seven relief outings with the Cubs.
"Cory did a great job, and he's on the train right there," Maddon said.
• Shortstop Addison Russell started on Monday against the Brewers, but he is still bothered by some soreness in his left middle finger, which he felt during a swing June 3.
"I'm grinding it out and I'm just happy to be out there on the field," Russell said. "It's nothing I can't tolerate."