Well-rested Cubs eager to get playoffs started

Well-rested Cubs eager to get playoffs started

CHICAGO -- The Cubs' workout Thursday was interrupted by rain, limiting the hitters to take their swings in the batting cages. Think they're eager to start the National League Division Series?

"Yes," Cubs catcher David Ross said. "[It's like] the cooped up dog in the house all day and the owner gets home. We've been running around the house for too long and we're ready to get out on the field and play some catch and hit and throw and be a part of everything we get to watch on TV. We're excited. I was up late last night watching the game. As soon as it was over, I was like, 'OK, I can't wait until we get our turn.'"

The Cubs get their turn on Friday in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Giants (9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on FS1) at Wrigley Field.

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

"It's nice to have the days off," Kris Bryant said. "I think a lot of us feel recuperated. Our bodies feel good. It's just a matter of getting going. I'm sure there's going to be some nerves and some anxiousness there early on."

Last season, the Cubs reached the NL Championship Series but were swept by the Mets. What did they learn?

"That we can play with anybody," Ross said. "That we're good enough to compete with anybody. And I think that paid off this year. When you get 103 wins, that's not by a fluke. I think you learn about dealing with the moment, the emotions of a 3-2 pitch, bases loaded, two out, the crowd on its feet. Those are exciting moments."

Bryant agreed, saying the biggest game last postseason was the Cubs' NL Wild Card Game win over the Pirates.

"For Jake Arrieta to go out there and do what he did and for us to get that experience of playing in the crowd where you can't even hear yourself think, it's important to us," Bryant said. "Certainly it will be pretty loud tomorrow, so all that from last year is going to ease the nerves a little bit."

Manager Joe Maddon has focused on his team -- not the opponent -- during workouts this week.

"I'm more concernend about us, how we play, how we react to the moment, how we execute our pitches or play defense, or how we react in the batter's box," Maddon said. "I think so much is made of who you're playing on the other side, but it's more about how you react to the moment."

• Maddon hinted he may stick with the lineup he used on Saturday against the Reds for Game 1. That means Javier Baez could be at third base and Bryant in left. Baez was set to find out later Thursday via text message.

"Sometimes when I'm playing, they tell me [the night before]," Baez said. "I always come ready to be out there."

He'll play wherever Maddon tells him, and this season, he's made two starts at first, 38 at second, 36 at third and 21 at shortstop.

"Joe knows I can play anywhere, so I feel wherever he needs me, he'll put me," Baez said.

• The Game 3 matchup in San Francisco could be interesting, matching Arrieta against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, who threw a shutout Wednesday in the NL Wild Card Game against the Mets.

"I'm not licking my lips because Bumgarner is on the other side," Arrieta said. "Whether it's Johnny Cueto or Jeff Samardzija or Matt Moore, those guys are all good. In a big situation like this, guys will be performing at their peak. We've pitched against each other before. You know you have to be near the top of your game to win that game. I've got to face him, but one through eight is my big concern, not really who's on the mound."

• Maddon is the second Cubs manager to reach the postseason in his first two seasons, joining Lou Piniella, who did so in 2007 and '08.

• Bobby Dernier, who played for the Cubs from 1984-87, brought his mother to Chicago for the NLDS and to celebrate her birthday. She turns 83 on Friday. He said his mom is his good-luck charm, having attended the two NLCS games in 1984 that the Cubs won against the Padres.

"I brought my karma," said Dernier, 59, who will be doing some television analysis for a Chicago television station.

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.