Heyward takes charge with rookie in center

Heyward takes charge with rookie in center

CHICAGO -- Usually, the center fielder is the field general during a game, but right fielder Jason Heyward is the boss in the Cubs outfield.

"Watch Jason," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday. "He really has a lot of movement, some of it subtle, but there's movement per pitch, per hitter, and it's all on his own, it's all instinctive stuff. While he's doing that, he's making sure center field is in concert with him."

The Cubs are hoping Heyward's expertise rubs off on rookie Ian Happ, who is new to center field. When Happ made his first start in center, Maddon made a note to make sure coach Dave Martinez stressed to the youngster the need to communicate with the corner outfielders and be aware of the brick wall at Wrigley Field.

"With Jason out there as a right fielder, he really directs traffic well," Maddon said of the four-time Gold Glove winner. "You look up and [Heyward] is like right there. It's just a sense he's got. There's very few guys I've had, espcially that young, who play that well."

And if a ball does drop between Heyward and another outfielder?

"When a ball falls between those two guys, I'm always surprised," Maddon said.

• Happ won't be playing every day. Maddon wants to ease the 22-year-old into the big league routine.

"I want to take care of him, I don't want to grind him into the ground," Maddon said. "Even though I was a horrible economics student, I really do believe in the point of diminishing returns. You have to be careful with that stuff."

Maddon believes rest is important and wants to make sure to use everyone on the bench, so Happ will share center. The Cubs do have depth that most teams do not have.

"The difference with our group regarding constructing a lineup daily is that a lot of teams may have bench players who they really don't want to play," Maddon said. "We have bench players who we really want to play and that's probably the difference. It's up to me that none of these guys sit too long and you try to find the best moment to inject them into the game, i.e., [Monday] night with Albert [Almora Jr.]"

On Tuesday, Almora was on the Cubs bench with Miguel Montero, Jon Jay and Javier Baez.

"There's an argument they could be starting somewhere else tonight for another group," Maddon said. "That's the beauty of what we have going on right now and it's also the most difficult thing I have to do daily."

• The Cubs tweaked the bullpen Tuesday and recalled right-hander Felix Pena from Triple-A Iowa and optioned lefty Zac Rosscup to the Minor League team.

"Felix has done some nice work up here," Maddon said. "He's ready to roll."

The first time he was promoted from Iowa, Pena pitched 3 2/3 innings May 6 against the Yankees, and three days later, he filled in with 1 1/3 innings against the Rockies. In the second outing, he gave up two hits.

• Maddon saw the video of the Cubs and Brewers relievers staging their own dance-off in their respective bullpens.

"I love that -- I think it's great," Maddon said of the good-natured competition, which the Brewers started.

Carl Edwards Jr. was impressive with his version of "the worm" dance. Maddon speculated they're auditioning for the next "Dancing with the Stars," which former Cubs catcher David Ross is competing in.

"They all want to be on that show," Maddon said. "[Anthony] Rizzo wants to be on that show, [Edwards] obviously wants to be on that show. [Bullpen coach] Lester Strode wants to be on that show -- 'Dancing with the Coaches.'

"I love that stuff. You're not showing up anybody, and you saw it the other day when both bullpens were involved."

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.