Rookie monster: Cubs have 4 on NLCS roster

Maddon: Big league novices 'doing really good work at pertinent times of the year'

Rookie monster: Cubs have 4 on NLCS roster

CHICAGO -- The Cubs have four rookies on the 25-man National League Championship Series roster, something manager Joe Maddon wasn't aware of until it was pointed out to him. It doesn't matter as far as he's concerned.

The foursome includes outfielder Albert Almora Jr., catcher Willson Contreras and pitchers Carl Edwards Jr. and Rob Zastryzny.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 15 CHC 8, LAD 4 video
Gm 2 Oct. 16 LAD 1, CHC 0 video
Gm 3 Oct. 18 LAD 6, CHC 0 video
Gm 4 Oct. 19 CHC 10, LAD 2 video
Gm 5 Oct. 20 CHC 8, LAD 4 video
Gm 6 Oct. 22 CHC 5, LAD 0 video

"We're just basing it off what we see, and Almora is making great strides, and Rob Z., what he did in [Los Angeles] is etched in your mind," Maddon said of the lefty reliever's 3 2/3 innings against the Dodgers in late August. "In general, when you look at the Dodger team and the lineup, the ability to have left-handed pitching -- everybody knows [you want] that."

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The rest of the Cubs are young, too, which is something Maddon likes to point out. Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward are 27, Kris Bryant is 24, Javier Baez is 23, Addison Russell 22.

"There's a lot of room for growth," Maddon said. "I write these names down -- Almora Jr., [Jorge] Soler, Contreras. Everybody talks about us being as good as we are, and I thank you, but look, these guys are still big league novices in a lot of ways, and they're doing really good work at pertinent times of the year.

"We're young," Maddon said, "and we're going to keep getting better."

Edwards induces fielder's choice

• The Cubs opted to carry 12 pitchers, and bumped left-handed hitting infielder Tommy La Stella, who had been on the NL Division Series roster. Last season, La Stella was a key bat off the bench, but he hit .237 in September.

"We just decided one more pitcher on the roster," Maddon said. "Missing Tommy's bat is never any fun, but [Chris] Coghlan has been swinging the bat well."

La Stella missed nearly one month when he refused to report to Triple-A Iowa and went home to New Jersey.

"He hasn't had enough at-bats," Maddon said. "I don't know that we've given him enough opportunity to become the same hitter either."

• Maddon said there were no health concerns regarding catcher Miguel Montero, who has had some back soreness. Montero was expected to catch Jake Arrieta in Game 3 when the NLCS shifts to Los Angeles.

"He felt pretty good [Friday]," Maddon said of Montero. "Talking to [athletic trainer PJ Mainville], it wasn't an overwhelming issue."

The Cubs carried three catchers for the majority of the season and had all three start during the NLDS.

Contreras' two-run single

• Hall of Famer Billy Williams took time Saturday to talk to Russell at the batting cage. Russell was 1-for-15 in the NLDS, and he did not play in the NLCS last year after injuring his hamstring.

"He's a guy who seems like he's struggling a little bit," Williams said. "Looking at him, I thought he might be trying to do too much. I told him, 'Don't worry about that, just swing the bat. We'll hit the ball, and just worry about making the plays in the field.' I know when you're in these types of games, you can think a little too much."

Russell on facing the Dodgers

All season, Maddon has preached that he wants the players to treat Oct. 15 the same as a game on April 15 or July 15. Williams likes that approach.

"They got here by winning 103 ballgames, by playing the game of baseball, and this is what they have to do here," Williams said. "You have to go out and hit and run, catch the ball and just enjoy yourself. I think Joe has done that throughout the year. Just go out and have fun and play the game of baseball."

• Quote of the day: "I want to make sure our guys are ready to play. I believe they are. Their focus has been outstanding. I expect a good effort. I think we're ready for this moment. Let's just go play." -- Maddon.

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.