Zobrist stays in top form with extra prep

Maddon raves about Cubs second baseman's work ethic

Zobrist stays in top form with extra prep

MILWAUKEE -- Watch Ben Zobrist before each pitch at second base. See how he's on his toes.

"I'm staying on my toes, but it's also to keep me mentally and physically ready for getting a good jump on the ball," the Cubs' second baseman said.

Zobrist looks as youthful as he did when manager Joe Maddon saw him in 2006 with Tampa Bay.

"He really takes good care of himself," Maddon said. "The chronological years may be piling up, but the way he works and how he goes about the day is probably better, combined with better knowledge. It's a combination of application of what he knows now."

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Maddon said he hasn't seen a physical decline with the 34-year-old.

"He moves the same, he throws the same, his bat speed is equally good," Maddon said. "I think it's a tribute to how well he takes care of himself."

What does Zobrist do? He likes to make sure his body is "hot" before a game, so he does activities to prep. He doesn't want his legs to be lazy. And he and shortstop Addison Russell work on their double-play relays during batting practice.

There wasn't one coach who suggested Zobrist do all the prep work.

"Just watching good players over the years and knowing how I felt after doing certain things made me know I need to spend more time on my double plays than I do on regular ground balls," he said. "The intricacies of getting my feet in the right position and getting the ball out quick prepares me for taking regular ground balls."

Extra bases

• Zobrist's wife, Julianna, has a new album out called "Shatterproof," and she will sing "God Bless America" and the national anthem prior to the Dodgers-Cubs game on Memorial Day at Wrigley Field.

• Outfielder Matt Szczur, who has been sidelined with a mild right hamstring strain, ran the bases and is close to beginning a Minor League rehab assignment. He is eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.