Maddon appreciates players stepping up for any role

Maddon appreciates players stepping up for any role

PITTSBURGH -- Third baseman Kris Bryant played center field, catcher Welington Castillo nearly switched to third base, and pitcher Travis Wood, always eager to pinch-hit, was one run away from playing the outfield.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon has had to be clever this season, and that trend continued Wednesday night when Bryant made his Major League debut in center for a half inning. On Thursday, Bryant started in center to give Dexter Fowler another day to heal from a tight right groin.

"When you say, 'All hands on deck,' we're not kidding," Maddon said. "They're seeing it to be true, and they like it. They like that they could show up at the ballpark and be put in the game at any time at various positions. I think they like that."

No one has asked Maddon if he could switch positions, with the exception of Wood, who is ready for anything.

"I can't tell you how alive that bench is in the latter part of games," Maddon said. "They're all ready to go. [Bench coach Dave Martinez] does a wonderful job of giving them advance notice. It's a wonderful vibe that we have to nurture.

"I've been involved in it before and involved successfully before," Maddon said. "Necessity is the mother of invention, so rock and roll."

Around the horn
• One of the reasons the Cubs wanted veterans like David Ross, Miguel Montero and Jon Lester is because of the impact they have in the clubhouse. On Wednesday, Maddon saw Ross greet Starlin Castro after the shortstop had grounded out in the second inning to applaud him for running hard to first base on the play.

"You don't see that every day," Maddon said of Ross. "Those guys are like chemistry majors. They know what they're doing and they set a different tone."

• Fowler was available to pinch-hit if needed on Thursday. He was pulled from Wednesday's game as a precautionary measure because of a tight right groin.

"If I had to play, I probably could," Fowler said Thursday.

Fowler felt the discomfort after rounding first base in the first, but he was able to steal second base.

• Javier Baez, who has been on bereavement leave following the death of his sister, was to report to the Cubs' facility in Mesa, Ariz., to get work in before he joins Triple-A Iowa. Baez has not played for the Minor League team this season.

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.