Maddon ready for WC battle in any setting
Cubs evaluating roster for postseason game; Hammel confident despite results
CINCINNATI -- The Cubs know they'll play in the National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser on Oct. 7. Whether it's at Wrigley Field or on the road has yet to be determined as the Cardinals and Pirates battle for the NL Central title.
"I don't think it matters to us where we play," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday. "To us, it matters to play in front of your home fan base. That would be the big reason you'd want to play at home, because of your fans. There's the potential of one game, and you want to play in front of your group. To win the game, I don't think it matters where we play."
Maddon said he used to think home-field advantage was important, but in the 2010 American League Division Series, his Rays lost the first two games played at home to the Rangers, then won the next two in Texas but eventually lost in five games.
"Let's just play it," Maddon said. "It's about pitching that day, how your players respond."
• The Cubs had initial discussions Monday on the makeup of the roster for the Wild Card Game, but they didn't get into specific names, Maddon said. They're considering whether to go with 15 position players or 16 for the 25-man postseason roster. He'd also like to test relievers Zac Rosscup and Carl Edwards Jr. in situations where there's a "little more heat," Maddon said.
"To me, it comes down to defensive replacements, having the extra catcher, the speed guy to pick you up late," he said.
• Despite being pulled after four-plus innings on Saturday, Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel said it was a good outing -- with the exception of one pitch. Hammel cruised through the first four innings against the Pirates, and with no outs in the fifth he gave up five consecutive hits, including a three-run homer to Jordy Mercer.
"It was one bad pitch, an elevated fastball that came back over the plate," Hammel said of the pitch to Mercer. "I would throw it again. He hasn't hit a heater down and away with authority pretty much all year. Of course, the one that leaks back over the plate, he can handle. It was just execution."
On Monday, Hammel threw a bullpen session and said he felt great. His next start will be Thursday against the Reds.
"I feel like things are clicking," he said Tuesday. "Obviously, I'm disappointed, but I feel like I'm on the right track."