Maddon shrugs off shaky bullpen performance

Maddon shrugs off shaky bullpen performance

MESA, Ariz. -- If you only looked at the boxscore, Cubs relievers Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez both had rough outings Saturday night. Manager Joe Maddon saw much more.

Grimm gave up four runs on two hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning against the Indians, while Ramirez was charged with five runs on three hits and one walk and didn't retire a batter.

Maddon said he thought Grimm might have had better luck if he mixed up his pitches more rather than rely on the fastball.

"He just challenged with the fastball," Maddon said Sunday. "That's why a lot of times in Spring Training you'll see guys hit better than they do in the regular season because they are seeing more fastballs [now], and that's what happened with him."

Three of the balls hit against Ramirez were choppers on the infield, and Maddon told the right-hander to "evaluate what happened properly.

"He didn't throw the ball badly at all," Maddon said. "He was making pitches, they put the ball in play.

"My takeaway is, I go up to them and say, 'How do you feel?' and they say, 'I feel great,' and that's it," Maddon said. "I can't say it often enough -- don't be deceived by Spring Training performances."

Javier Baez made a couple outstanding catches in center field Saturday night against the Indians. He's played center, first, second and shortstop so far this spring.

"I have no concern with him on defense at all at any position," Maddon said. "He's just a good baseball player and a really good athlete. He has a calmness about his play."

• The rest of the Cubs have Monday off, but John Lackey will pitch in a Minor League game at 1 p.m. MT at the team's complex. Lackey, who has pitched in two Cactus League games so far, was scheduled for Monday to stay on schedule for the regular season.

• The top prospects of the Cubs and Rangers will square off Wednesday in Surprise, Ariz., after the two big league teams meet in a Cactus League game. The rosters have not been announced yet.

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