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Leadoff spark? Maddon puts Contreras up top

MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

ST. LOUIS -- Willson Contreras wasn't shocked when he saw the Cubs' lineup on Sunday and that he was leading off for the first time this season and third time in his career.

"I can't say I'm really surprised, because our manager likes to mix things up," Contreras said. "I know what it's like to be a leadoff hitter, and I'm going to try to approach it the same way and try to be productive."

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ST. LOUIS -- Willson Contreras wasn't shocked when he saw the Cubs' lineup on Sunday and that he was leading off for the first time this season and third time in his career.

"I can't say I'm really surprised, because our manager likes to mix things up," Contreras said. "I know what it's like to be a leadoff hitter, and I'm going to try to approach it the same way and try to be productive."

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Contreras was 0-for-9 in the first two games of the series against the Cardinals, and he's batting .235 overall. Manager Joe Maddon's rationale?

"Willson has done it in the past, and he's struggling," Maddon said. "That's part of my equation for putting somebody at the top. We talked about the concepts and he was good, and we'll see what happens."

Maddon was onto something, as Contreras opened the game with a single, took second and third on Kyle Schwarber's infield single and third baseman Jedd Gyorko's throwing error and scored on Anthony Rizzo's sacrifice fly.

Video: CHC@STL: Rizzo plates Contreras to give Cubs the lead

Contreras is the fifth Cubs batter to be inserted into the leadoff spot this season.

"I like [having him lead off] because he is capable of walking and I want him to be aware of not just trying to get hits," Maddon said. "Work a good at-bat, stay centered, stay in the middle of the field mentally and let's see what happens. He's got the energy to do it. I think it might perk him up a little bit."

Contreras has also batted third, fourth and fifth this season. Does he want to be in one spot?

"I don't care," Contreras said. "I don't care if I hit leadoff, five or second or third or fourth. It means I'm in the lineup, and that means a lot for us. If you're in the lineup, you have to be happy and be able to do something to help the team."

Albert Almora Jr. will likely bat leadoff on Monday against Marlins' lefty Jarlin Garcia.

Video: MIL@CHC: Russell lines a triple the other way

Russell having a power outage
Shortstop Addison Russell entered Sunday's game with no home runs in 96 at-bats this season. Last year, he hit two homers in April and finished with 12.

"He hasn't locked in yet," Maddon said. "He'll lock in, and the ball's going to go far. I think he looks good. His defense has been outstanding, and he's running the bases better than he's ever run the bases. ... He hasn't turned the corner yet, regarding how good he can be."

Contreras' wedding had two rainouts
Maddon didn't know that Contreras took advantage of Thursday's off-day to get married. What Maddon and Contreras' teammates didn't know was that the nuptials had been postponed twice because of rain delays. The weather interfered with the Cubs' games, which interfered with Contreras' plans to wed Andrea Villamizar. They did so on Thursday at City Hall in downtown Chicago.

Maddon was surprised when he found out on Friday.

"He looked at me and said, 'You got married? Why didn't you tell me? Give me a hug,'" Contreras said. "I think everybody was surprised. I didn't tell anybody really. It got canceled twice because of rain delays and I didn't want to talk any more, and just said, let it happen.

"God knows. He has better plans," Contreras said. "We finally made it."

Video: CHC@STL: Schwarber makes the catch after a tumble

Schwarber's outfield adventure
Kyle Schwarber is looking for some new shoes. In the sixth inning Saturday, Matt Carpenter lined a ball to left and Schwarber took about four steps, then tripped and fell backward. He was able to get up in time to catch the ball and throw it in. But then Schwarber had to come in to get a new pair of shoes because the laces had ripped.

What happened?

"All I did was crossover and the heel of the spike caught my loop and it just pretty much ripped it," Schwarber said Sunday. "That was the adventure out there."

He still made the catch despite the equipment malfunction.

"I was just trying to keep my eye on it," Schwarber said. "I knew I wasn't too far off. I was able to keep my eye on it and get up and catch it."

It was a first for the Cubs outfielder and surprised him. He looked as if he kept his cool during the play.

"It might have looked like it," Schwarber said.

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

Chicago Cubs