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Maddon confident in rotation ahead of Deadline

Cubs manager says adding starting pitcher hasn't been discussed with Epstein, Hoyer
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- The Cubs have been rumored to be interested in acquiring a starting pitcher before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, but manager Joe Maddon said that topic has not been discussed with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein or general manager Jed Hoyer.

"We have not even discussed that, so I don't have a solid answer for that," Maddon said Tuesday when asked if the team needed another starter. "That's not been strongly circulated, so it's hard for me to create conjecture."

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CHICAGO -- The Cubs have been rumored to be interested in acquiring a starting pitcher before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, but manager Joe Maddon said that topic has not been discussed with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein or general manager Jed Hoyer.

"We have not even discussed that, so I don't have a solid answer for that," Maddon said Tuesday when asked if the team needed another starter. "That's not been strongly circulated, so it's hard for me to create conjecture."

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With the return of Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey from the disabled list and the addition of Jose Quintana, Maddon feels good about his rotation.

"I really think what we need is right here, and I mean that sincerely," Maddon said. "I think the guys have been trending in the right direction."

Hendricks wasn't able to finish the fifth inning on Monday in his first start off the DL, but Maddon said the right-hander recognized some mechanical tweaks that he needed to make.

Video: CWS@CHC: Hendricks fans five in return from DL

"I think he'll continue to get better," Maddon said. "If you were to bring somebody else in, there's a lot of moving parts that would have to occur. That has not been part of my discussion with Theo or Jed at all."

Maybe the Cubs need some help in the bullpen?

"I like our guys," Maddon said, pointing out that Hector Rondon's fastball has been averaging 97 mph and adding that "he's turned into a different FM station -- he's 97.4."

Worth noting
• However, the Cubs may be in the market for a veteran catcher. Maddon said rookie Victor Caratini, who has made three starts since he was called up the end of June, will start on Wednesday to give Willson Contreras a break. The team has had a scout watching the Tigers lately, and it has been rumored to be interested in Alex Avila, 30, who was batting .280 in 73 games entering Tuesday. Avila, who is making $2 million this year, will be a free agent after this season.

• The Cubs have used nine batters in the leadoff spot this season, and Maddon is OK with that.

"The best way to describe it is yeah, you'd like to have a closer because it sets up your bullpen," Maddon said. "You'd like to have a leadoff hitter who you can rely on a daily basis because it sets up the rest of the lineup. Sometimes you have a closer by committee; sometimes you have leadoff hitter by committee.

"I don't think it's that big of an issue, because we have been pretty successful there. The guys we've utilized have done a good job. Would you like to have one? Sure. If you don't have one and you can make it work, there's nothing wrong with that."

The Cubs simply don't have that prototypical speed guy at the top of the order who will steal 40 bases.

"Let's try to make the best with what we have," Maddon said.

• The Cubs announced the Sept. 17 game against the Cardinals, which was listed as "TBD," will start at 1:20 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Chicago Cubs