Q. Talk about why you have the confidence in him and just about how he's developed.
JOE MADDON: You saw it last night. I mean, he played really well once again. Didn't have his hits, but still worked good at-bats, did a great job of receiving. I loved -- I heard there was some concern about his trips to the mound, but they were absolutely necessary. There's times the trips to the mound are necessary. It's about strategy. Sometimes pitchers get off course, and he's really good at following a game plan, so I loved his trips to the mound last night, actually. I didn't like them, I loved them. So I didn't think he wasted any energy with any of that stuff. And if you knew what we were doing and how this thing was all being processed out, you would have supported his trips to the mound.
So anyway, he did all of that, he's a first-year player that gets it. He plays with enthusiasm and passion. I know it actually comes through the TV monitors or screens, too. I'm certain of that. But I was really pleased with his performance last night in its entirety.
Q. Do you have an update on Schwarber, and what are the pros and cons if he is cleared letting him play out in the field?
JOE MADDON: I haven't. I just got here (laughing). Really, I tried to sleep as long as I could. But I haven't. I haven't. I'm going to talk to Theo shortly. I don't know exactly where it is medically yet. I don't. I'll find out more once we get done with this, go back in the office, and hopefully get a chance to visit with Theo and Jed, et cetera.
But honestly, that's all I know right now, and if you see him out there taking fly balls, that means we probably got the go ahead to try it, otherwise it's probably been put on hold.
Q. For you, what makes Wrigley Field special? And how is it distinctive from, let's say, Fenway or any of the other special stadiums you've been through to the years?
JOE MADDON: Two things: The neighborhood concept. I know where Fenway is, but it doesn't really feel necessarily like it's in a neighborhood like this place does.
That and this is so enveloping. The fact that the bleachers come all the way around. When you're out there, everybody's watching and they're watching you very closely. They're very close to you. That is a big part of it.
Beyond that, again, I know Fenway's got the wall, but we've got ivy on our walls, and actually it's Boston Ivy. How ironic is that? We have the ivy on the walls that turns colors during the course of the year. It starts out as a vine of sorts, and then it becomes this really magnificent green wall.
Then, again, just the structure of the stadium, and then our fans. I'm not denigrating anybody else's fans right now, not at all. Our fans have been there through thick and thin, and they've hung in there really well. And when you interact with them, they're just here to support their Cubs. I don't get any grinding of axes and whatever. They've been very supportive of us, at least for the two years I've been here. That's what I've recognized.
But I think it really sets it apart. I remember going to Shibe Park, Connie Mack, when I was a kid with my dad and my mom. I felt more neighborhood-esque. And I like the idea, and I love the new downtown ballparks. I love when the venue is situated in a vibrant part of the urban setting. I think that really matters a lot, and I think obviously that it can help reestablish an urban setting in a particular market.
But it's all of that. And then I drive down Clark every day from Downtown, and as you get closer, you see all the venues that support all this, and also the people milling around. Anyplace I've been I haven't seen that with any ballpark to that level. So its enormity in its entirety, it's just different, but to have actual living spaces surrounding the ballpark is pretty cool.
Q. I know on the field your mantra is "In the moment and not to get too far ahead," but you're also a man that appreciates history and the settings here. Can you appreciate the magnitude of tomorrow night in the first World Series game here?
JOE MADDON: Absolutely. I'm not even thinking -- the other day you hear after we win the game in Cleveland or last night, whenever that was, that it was the first World Series victory for the Cubs in 71 years. I don't even think about that stuff. But that did make me think about what you're talking about right now, the first World Series game here in a while.
Last year was significant when I didn't even realize we had never beaten the Cardinals in a playoff game. So we win this series against the Cardinals here. That was pretty outstanding.
Had a tough run against the Mets. Then you come back this year and beat two really good teams to get to this juncture. I mean, the Giants, especially this time of the year, and the Dodgers really built for this time of the year. To be able to get through them, to get to this moment, and then have your fans have the opportunity to witness a World Series game here. Yeah, not lost on me whatsoever.
It's going to be an absolute blast. Beanie's (Albina) coming in. My kids are coming. Everybody's coming in. It's going to be great. So I know that people have been waiting for this for a long time are going to savor it, and hopefully on our part we can do something to really make it even better.
Q. Sticking on the Wrigley theme, do you have a favorite place in the ballpark? Also, any thoughts on the bullpen's no longer being down the line after this weekend?
JOE MADDON: My favorite place in the ballpark is the last seat that I can see from standing in the dugout out in the right field corner. I've never even been there yet, but I love that that seat is filled every night. I think that is outstanding. So I glommed onto that last year at some point in the season. I think it was early on. But I'm looking up, the way it curves out up there, and you see the rooftops behind it, but there is somebody sitting in that farthest seat; that's outstanding.
Regarding the mounds on the field, that's something that the folks that are putting this all together regarding the ability to get as much out of the ballpark as you possibly can. I understand more seats on the field, et cetera. If I'm a pitcher, my only point would be that if I'm a relief pitcher, I think I like the idea of warming up on the field. I do. Again, because it's always as crazy as it is. I think if you can get into the feel or the flow of the game before you get out there, has to be advantageous. I don't even know what it's going to look like underneath. I have no clue on that.
But I've always -- outside of the outfielders running over the hump, and it could be slightly dangerous, and it can impact play; of course it can. But on the other side I think, again, just if you're pitching, a relief pitcher, I think it's kind of a great place to get involved in a game.
If you notice, I always stand up high in the dugout. I don't sit down, though yesterday I was closer to the heater, I'll admit that. But normally I'm right out front because I want to feel it. I really believe that. As a bench coach in Anaheim I used to sit down below with Sosh (Scioscia) on that little area, and then when you'd get up on top, it was an entirely different vibe, man. Two, three steps up, it's a different vibe. You feel everything.
So I'm big on feel, and I think it can help a relief pitcher gain feel before he goes into the game.
Q. With Kyle Hendricks coming off that outstanding performance last Saturday, your thoughts on why he's so successful in this ballpark? I've asked you this question a lot. And the confidence his teammates have with him when he's on the mound?
JOE MADDON: I've talked to other former pitchers. I think a lot of pitchers like throwing here just because what I was talking about before, when you're on the mound and how closely knit the backdrop is or I think the pitchers feel as though they're really not far from home plate. There's times different ballparks you feel like the mound is far away, and sometimes it feels like it's right on top of you. I think from a pitcher's perspective they like throwing here because the plate looks so close. Almost like having the cage around, which is an entirely different, again, feel.
So I think that has a lot to -- something to do with it. I think beyond that, the elements itself. I mean, I apparently the wind may be blowing out tomorrow night, but for the most part this year it's not. It's a really big ballpark, in spite of what the numbers say on the wall. And we have a very good defense. And a big part of is that he has elicited weaker contact all year based on the variety of pitches he has.
So all those factors are contributing, it's just that he has pitched so well this year. He's pitched so well this year with all of his pitches. We play very good defense, and the ballpark can be huge.
Q. You have so many young players on your roster, under 25 years old. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about two of the young outfielders you have, Jorge Soler and Almora. I'm concerned that you have most of your outfield set. What is the future for them here on the Cubs?
JOE MADDON: Well, Jorgie's just been held back by a couple injuries and we were unable to get him really locked in coming into this playoff run. But Jorge, you watch even like last night, he didn't get the hits, but you could just see the force in the swing, and if he's on, how he could impact the game. You also saw last night his ability to take a borderline pitch as a ball. See, that to me is really important. He's not just a free-swinging fool. He'll make the pitcher come over the plate with enough at-bats. When he gets in a groove, man, you've got to throw the ball over the plate, because he's not going to chase it on you. So the hitting and power abilities are really off the chart. We're still working on defense, and it's gotten better.
So, of course, Jorge is a really high-end, Major League player, and he is young. He just needs more opportunity. We need to keep him on the field more consistently.
Albert, I think, is going to surprise a lot of people. Because coming up, again, Albert's always had a reputation of swinging a lot, putting a lot of pitches in play, and not really working at-bats. There is that group that frowns upon that. However, I'm telling you, he's getting better at that. The other part is the power is going to be a lot more than people know. This kid's going to be really strong. He's learning how to elevate the ball right now. Him and Johnny have been doing a lot of good work. Of course he's an outstanding outfielder. Patience there, man, this kid's really young.
Furthermore, he's not afraid. He's not afraid of anything. And I really like guys that are not afraid. That matters in makeup, all that kind of good stuff. When a guy's got that, he can really go into a fine Major League Baseball career. And he's gonna. Give this kid a couple years, he's going to be outstanding.
Q. Talking to some of your players, they're very respectful of the history and they understand the moment for all the families and everybody in Chicago. But they all talked about creating their own history.
JOE MADDON: Of course.
Q. Can you talk about that?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, well, I mean, we are -- if you don't mind, I just want to go back in time with Mr. Autry with the Angels. Everybody wanted to do it for Mr. Autry, but at the same time you want to do it for everybody in your organization and your own group. You wanted to create your own history.
Agreed, we are very much aware of everything that's gone on in the past, but we have to live in the present otherwise you'll never be able to get to this juncture in the season. So I really am impressed whatever I've read or have heard, the respect our players have shown about every part of this entire situation, organizationally, city-wide, fanbase, all that stuff. I think our players have been outstanding in the way they've handled all that. But at the end of the day, you want to get on that field for the last out, and you want to celebrate among each other.
I mean, we've been after this for a bit, like everybody else has. We've been after it a bit. Last year started, this year Spring Training. All season long people have been after us, and our guys are still standing. Give them a lot of credit for that. Like Manolo just pointed out, pretty young team on the field last night.
So, yes, we want to do it for all the right reasons, but don't forget at the end of the day, it's about the player on the field and the mark that they're going to make by being able to pull this off.
Q. Jon Lester said today that he's a little envious of the way Kyle's able to control his emotions. In your experiences with him, how much does that help him? Do you have any kind of funny stories that are outside of the personality that we see?
JOE MADDON: Kyle?
JOE MADDON: No, I mean, I just think that's just who he is. I've only known him for two years now, but I've never seen him rush through anything. I'm sure he takes time brushing his teeth. I would imagine his cup of coffee takes two hours to drink. I mean, this guy is just, he just has this really -- and he's a good golfer. The great Walter Hagen on the day that he played, he slowed on everything that he does. I would bet that he has the slowest back swing in history. He is just that guy, he's that guy. He's right there? Do you have a slow back swing? I didn't even know you were over there, man.
So that's just who he is. No funny stories. We've just had like -- you know, with Kyle, it's not like this elongated conversation. It's kind of a brief, effective, right to the point conversation when you speak with him, and I think, again, that just speaks to his personality. Very bright, as witnessed by where he attended school. Not just anybody can walk in those doors. But I think how he is does lend to his effectiveness because Lester's, Jonny Lester's right, he's able to just process the moment slowly as good as anybody I've been around.
Q. Whether or not Kyle Schwarber plays this weekend, there is a legendary status around this kid already. Is the beauty for you that it's happened organically?
JOE MADDON: No doubt. You know how much I dig on that. Yeah, he's just here -- this was not supposed to happen, based on everything I've heard all year, the severity of his injury, but then you have to take into consideration the human being and the people surrounding him and the fact that he had the desire to do it, and we had the people there to work with him. And the facility itself, you know, we've mentioned that briefly earlier, but our clubhouse, and all the implements in there and their ability to work and rehab a player is outstanding. Really, you just imagine it's inviting, okay? It's inviting to go in there and work to get better, whereas some places it's not nearly as inviting or motivational like our place is. So all those factors count.
I don't know. Maybe, I don't know, five guys might have been able to pull off what he's done. Maybe even less than five. He's an incredible young man. And beyond all that, again, you're talking about Kyle and being able to slow down the moment. How about him? How about his at-bats right now to not be jumpy. That's the one thing I talked about the other day. Is he going to be jumpy at the plate? Is he going to be on his front foot a lot? Absolutely not. He's been staying back, seeing the baseball extremely well. So it's unusual, man. We're very happy that it worked out that way.
Q. Joe, even if Kyle's medically cleared to play and they say physically everything's fine, what kind of concerns might you have even in the back of your mind putting him in the field after all these months?
JOE MADDON: Of course, you have to believe that he's going to work at it, but it would be hard to be as sharp as he possibly can be. Of course the objective would be to grab a lead and then replace him defensively of in the latter part of the game. So if he's able to do something like that, you're hoping to get maybe three, possibly even four at-bats and then get him out, as opposed to just one at-bat in a different moment. So what would you rather have?
Obviously, with their group, Cleveland, you don't want to get behind. Their bullpen is that effectively good. So, again, that's just the conjecture right there. I don't know. I don't know what's going to happen. But I think if you had the option, you'd take in the outfield the earlier part of the game. Try to position him as well as you possibly can, and then move him with the lead later.
Q. How cognizant are you of the pace of play and the length of game? Does it matter at all as it relates to how your hitters are working the counts with pitchers? You barely beat the rain last night, but do you even think about how long these games are going?
JOE MADDON: Nope, (laughing). You get so involved in the moment. I had no idea. I couldn't even tell you how long those games are. I have no idea how long those games were. As the game gets deeper, too, you really get like right here just thinking about your pitching, primarily, maybe pinch-hitting. Like coming back to the National League side, there is more to think about in the game in progress. On the American League side, there is a lot less to think about. So really a game, the deeper the game gets, the less you're aware of time, as far as I'm concerned.
So I have no idea how long those games were. You'd have to tell me. I know what time the bus was last night. I got on the bus at 12:30, I know that. I got back to my place at 3:00 in the morning. I do know that. But regarding length of the inning, length of the game, how much time a guy's taking between pitches, I have no clue.