Maddon expects players to hit to game situations

Maddon expects players to hit to game situations

MESA, Ariz. -- If we've learned anything about the Cubs' offense this spring, it's that they aren't short on power. The 14 home runs hit by the North Siders during Spring Training were the most in the Majors entering Friday's games.

But Cubs manager Joe Maddon also acknowledged that his club is "probably going to be more of a strikeout team, too," and he wants to make certain his players are capable of manufacturing runs in tight ballgames.

"The home run is always nice, of course, and it's a big part of offense," Maddon said. "A lot of teams would like to have it, and they don't have it. It looks like we're going to have it. But beyond all of that, you're going to need to move the baseball in the right situations."

That doesn't mean Maddon is anti-strikeout. He pointed out that not all strikeouts are equally harmful. A strikeout with two outs and nobody on base has a much different impact -- compared to a normal out on a ball put in play -- than a strikeout with a man on third and one out.

Given the often-harsh conditions in Chicago early in the season, Maddon said he needs his players to understand the distinction and be capable of catering their at-bats to the situation.

That doesn't mean Maddon plans to overuse the bunt.

"People just want to blanketly bunt because their grandpops did or their father did," Maddon said. "Believe me, it's not always the right answer. Whereas sometimes it is. I want us to be proficient enough when the moment calls for it."

Essentially, Maddon's belief system will be this: He isn't going to ask his high-production guys to bunt, and he isn't going to ask his high-power, high-strikeout guys to hit-and-run.

But when the situation specifically calls for one or the other, Maddon wants to know that the right players are proficient enough -- so he at least has the option.

"When it comes down to manufacturing runs, the guys that need to be able to handle the bat and hit-and-run need to be able to do that," Maddon said. "They need to understand that. The guys that are going to bunt, make sure they know how to bunt."

Worth noting

• Maddon received some good news on his way to work this morning. Not one to check his phone in the car, an antsy Maddon glanced at his cell while stopped at a red light.

That's when he got the news: Maddon's granddaughter Carson Rose was born Friday morning at 7 pounds, 6 ounces in Arizona. Both the baby and her mother, Maddon's daughter Sarah, are doing well. Carson is Maddon's fifth grandchild.

• The Cubs will have at least one long man on their roster this season, and Maddon says he'll most likely have two at the start of the season -- when pitchers are prone to shorter outings.

That would seem to bode well for Felix Doubront, but not if his struggles continue. Doubront has allowed seven earned runs in five innings this spring.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.