Maddon: Spring Training games important

Maddon: Spring Training games important

MESA, Ariz. -- Joe Maddon wants the Cubs to play just as hard in March as in June, July or August, and hopefully, in October. That will be part of his message Wednesday when he addresses the full squad.

"I do like to win in Spring Training," Maddon said Sunday. "I think my message to the group when they show up in a couple days is I want them to play the game, whether it's March 15 or July 15 or Oct. 15.

"When you build that mindset," he said, "and you get to the end of the season and the playoff situation, you don't change your game. I think that's the trap that a lot of groups fall into -- that I have to try harder or I have to do more or I have to step up. I really don't like the phrase 'step up' at all. That insinuates that you have not been trying before that."

The Cubs open Cactus League play on March 5 with split-squad games, and Maddon will expect to see a good effort then.

"If we can build the thought process of where you come to play every day, regardless of the date, don't apply any more weight to any game, by the time we get to the playoffs, the game feels the same and I don't think you're going to be intimidated by that moment in any way shape or form," Maddon said. "That's how I approach it."

• Tsuyoshi Wada is the only pitcher being held out of drills. The left-hander has some tightness in his hamstring. All the other pitchers who threw on Friday had their second side sessions on Sunday.

• The Cubs will be careful with Jorge Soler this spring to avoid any leg injuries, which slowed the outfielder last year. The plan is to not keep him on his feet too long or push him too hard, Maddon said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.