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Maddon rejects talk of changing Yu's catcher

MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

ST. LOUIS -- Yu Darvish is winless in his first six starts with the Cubs and has yet to finish the fifth inning in four of those outings. Manager Joe Maddon says there's been no talk about reuniting Darvish with catcher Chris Gimenez, who is currently on the Cubs' Triple-A Iowa roster. That's not the problem, Maddon said.

"Two games ago [against the Brewers], everybody thought it was a nice combo, then Yu had a tough time and now it's the catcher's fault," Maddon said. "It has nothing to do with the catcher. Did you all write that down? It has nothing to do with the catcher."

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ST. LOUIS -- Yu Darvish is winless in his first six starts with the Cubs and has yet to finish the fifth inning in four of those outings. Manager Joe Maddon says there's been no talk about reuniting Darvish with catcher Chris Gimenez, who is currently on the Cubs' Triple-A Iowa roster. That's not the problem, Maddon said.

"Two games ago [against the Brewers], everybody thought it was a nice combo, then Yu had a tough time and now it's the catcher's fault," Maddon said. "It has nothing to do with the catcher. Did you all write that down? It has nothing to do with the catcher."

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In his start against Milwaukee, Darvish gave up one unearned run on three hits and two walks over six innings. So far, he has given up one earned run over 12 innings in two starts against the Brewers, and 19 earned runs over 18 innings against the Braves, Rockies (two starts) and Marlins.

Darvish may have a large repertoire of pitches but Maddon said the goal is to simplify things.

"It's [finding] the best version of him," Maddon said. "We're doing our research, we've been doing our research. It takes a while. Talk about relationship building and the trust and constructive criticism, you have to be together for a while before you can put all of that together. I think we're at that point where we're able to observe.

"Now we're about ready to say things in a real constructive manner, where the constructive criticism flows with no pushback from either side," Maddon said. "Let's keep playing it out. As long as he's healthy, this guy will have a terrific year."

Worth noting
• Another Cubs player who is scuffling is Ian Happ, who went 2-for-12 on the last homestand and was batting .233 overall. Happ did deliver a pinch-hit double with one out in the fifth on Friday night against the Cardinals.

"I need to get him out there," Maddon said. "His development is very important to us and me personally. He's working, he's working his butt off. I talked about it with [Victor] Caratini -- a young guy like that, you hate not playing guys who are young and good.

"I need to figure out a way to get 'Happer' back on the horse in a positive way," Maddon said.

Javier Baez and Albert Almora Jr. have six walks apiece, and Baez hasn't drawn a walk since April 11.

"Why do scorpions bite? It's their nature," Maddon said. "Why do young guys swing like that? Because it's their nature. How do you change that? You've got to talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. ... You've got to be patient."

• The Cubs named Double-A Tennessee outfielder Jeffrey Baez and Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach right-handed pitcher Matt Swarmer the organization's Minor League player and pitcher of the month for April, respectively.

Baez, 24, hit .411 with seven doubles, one triple, three homers, 15 RBIs and seven runs scored in 21 April games. Among all Cubs' Minor Leaguers, he ranked first in RBIs and extra-base hits, was tied for first in hits and doubles, and tied for second in homers. His .411 average and .443 OBP were both best in the organization among players with at least 50 at-bats.

Swarmer, 24, went 2-2 with a 1.74 ERA, giving up four earned runs over 20 2/3 innings in four starts in April. He struck out 26 and walked three. He threw a season-high six scoreless innings on April 22 against Down East, and allowed one run in two of his other three starts. His 26 strikeouts ranked second in the organization, while his 1.74 ERA ranked third.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Yu Darvish