Russell on Maddon's message: Don't overdo it

North Siders enter postseason with NL's best fielding percentage and ERA

Russell on Maddon's message: Don't overdo it

CHICAGO -- The Cubs got a message from manager Joe Maddon and reviewed some defensive fundamentals on Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field, as they waited to find out who they will face in the National League Division Series, which opens Friday at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on FS1.

"[He just said] do things the same," shortstop Addison Russell said of Maddon's pre-workout talk. "We're not trying to change anything up. We realize these games are important, and we're going to try our best.

• Buy NL Central champs gear

"He basically said, 'Don't overdo anything.'"

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 7 CHC 1, SF 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 8 CHC 5, SF 2 video
Gm 3 Oct. 10 SF 6, CHC, 5 (13) video
Gm 4 Oct. 11 CHC 6, SF 5 video

The Cubs get the Giants, who stunned the Mets on Wednesday in the NL Wild Card Game, 3-0.

This is Russell's second season in the big leagues and his second trip to the postseason. He injured his left hamstring in Game 3 of the NLDS last year against the Cardinals and did not play in the NL Championship Series against the Mets. Playing important games in October has helped Russell, 22, heading into this year's postseason.

"It's pretty important," he said. "I've got that experience in my back pocket. I'm positive and amped up as well."

Veteran Miguel Montero, who is making his fourth trip to the postseason, is aware the Cubs were the preseason favorites to win it all. He said there's no pressure on the NL Central champions.

"I don't believe in pressure," Montero said. "You live for these type of moments. As a player growing up, you want to be in this situation. I want to be up in the ninth inning with the winning run at third, and I want to be up hitting. You live for that. We live for this time of year."

Montero's two-run home run

The Cubs will have one more workout on Thursday before the NLDS begins, and it will be under the lights. Maddon scheduled a 7 p.m. CT workout at Wrigley so they could get more accustomed to night baseball at the ballpark.

• Last year in the NLCS, Mets closer Jeurys Familia gave up two hits over 4 1/3 innings in four games against the Cubs, striking out three. He was an important reason why the Mets swept the Cubs in the series. This year, the Cubs have a similar weapon in their bullpen in Aroldis Chapman.

"You're looking at a guy who can strike a guy out on three pitches," Russell said of the left-hander. "With him, it's almost automatic. It's a good thing to have."

Chapman notches the save

Mets manager Terry Collins knew how key Familia was to the team's success.

"I thought Terry Collins did a terrific job last year in how he used Familia," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said on Wednesday. "I saw [Collins] make comments to the media the other day -- [they asked] 'What'd you learn last year?' [And he said] 'I used to learn Familia.' It makes sense. He really shortened the game up. He was effective throughout. He gave up the home run to Alex Gordon [in the World Series], but his influence in the whole postseason was remarkable."

Since joining the Cubs in a July trade with the Yankees, Chapman is 16-for-18 in save situations with a 1.01 ERA, giving up three earned runs over 26 2/3 innings. He's struck out 46, and every pitch prompts a reaction from the Wrigley Field crowd.

"Chappy is a special breed, throwing 100 plus from the left side," Chicago's Jason Heyward said. "It speaks for itself."

• The Cubs finished the season with the top fielding percentage in the NL at .975 and the top ERA by their starting pitchers.

"Pitching and defense is huge -- that's the name of the game," Heyward said. "In the postseason, there's going to be big hits because you're facing everybody's ace, you're facing everybody's top reliever. Clutch is clutch, but if you can keep that extra run off the board or keep that momentum on your side and get out of a jam, I think it's huge going into an offensive inning."

Heyward's great catch in stands

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.