With big lead, Maddon emphasizes extra rest

With big lead, Maddon emphasizes extra rest

LOS ANGELES -- What does a double-digit lead in the standings do for the Cubs? It gives the players a chance to sleep in.

The emphasis in August for manager Joe Maddon is to give the players enough rest, and the Cubs' large lead in the National League Central is a luxury that allows him to do so.

"I want them to be late to the ballpark," Maddon said Friday. "If it's a 7 o'clock game, and you're showing up at 4:30, I'm fine. Five o'clock, I'm fine. Whatever it takes you to get ready to play that game tonight, you know what it takes."

All Maddon asks is that the players are prepared for each game.

"If their minds are fresh, they'll play a better game," he said.

Worth noting

Joe Smith, on the disabled list since Aug. 17 with a left hamstring strain, has joined Triple-A Iowa to continue his rehab. He'll join outfielder Chris Coghlan (right rib contusion) who started playing for Iowa on Thursday.

John Lackey (right shoulder strain) and Hector Rondon (right triceps strain) have also made progress, Maddon said. None of them were expected to be activated before Sept. 1.

The one player they have to be careful with is Pedro Strop, who had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Strop apparently is feeling so good, they have to rein him in, Maddon said. Strop went on the DL Aug. 11 and was expected to be sidelined four to six weeks.

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.