Maddon: Technique affecting Russell's throws

Maddon: Technique affecting Russell's throws

SAN DIEGO -- The problem with Cubs shortstop Addison Russell's throws lately have not been his right shoulder, which forced him to miss three games earlier this month, but more technique, manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday.

Russell did not start on Wednesday in the Cubs' series finale against the Padres as part of a planned day off, Maddon said.

"For me, from what I'm seeing, he's off to the side with the ball," Maddon said of Russell's throws. "The other day in [Los Angeles], we have that first-base dugout, and I told [infield coach Gary Jones], I've never seen him throw the ball so well, and with so much on it. I think technique-wise, [Russell] is off to the side of the ball a little bit, which is causing it to sink somewhat or sail. Arm strength-wise, I think [Los Angeles] was the best I've seen him throw the baseball since I've known him."

Russell has been in a little bit of a funk at the plate. He batted .258 in April but entered Wednesday hitting .164 in May.

"He hasn't been on top of his game, no question," Maddon said. "That's why I make sure to give him time off, and I can with Javy [Baez]. Having both of those guys going back and forth, I think, will benefit us this season. If you don't have Javy, it makes it lot more difficult."

Baez started at shortstop on Wednesday for the ninth time this season. Maddon said Russell's right shoulder is not an issue.

"Honestly, I have not been told by the [athletic] trainers and haven't got that from Addy," Maddon said. "I think it's more technique than anything."

Worth noting

• One of the reasons the Cubs were successful the past two seasons was because Maddon had what he called the "Rizzo sandwich" in the lineup. That meant having Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist batting around Anthony Rizzo. With Zobrist taking over the leadoff duties, the Cubs lost a part of that combination. Rookie Ian Happ has been asked to fill in, batting behind Rizzo.

"In the beginning, Ian was filling in nicely with that," Maddon said. "We just have to get Ian back on track. Ian is a novice and he's been historically hot and cold -- he's going to get hot again.

"[Zobrist] is doing a wonderful job at the top of the batting order, he's getting on base constantly and his at-bats have been fabulous," Maddon said. "On paper, I like how we line up a lot, not a little bit. As these guys get back to being what they should look like, I anticipate this being a really good looking lineup."

It's just a matter of being patient with the young Cubs players, Maddon said.

"For me, the key component is the word 'patience,'" Maddon said. "I got it from my dad. I think you just have to stay with them. It's the nature of a young player. Yes, they're World Series champs and did a great job last year. Your mind works different the next year. I just have to continue to show faith in them, which I will.

"You'll see that kind of performance again soon," Maddon said. "It's just one of those moments where everybody is struggling, not one or two guys."

• Maddon has a new, but old, dark green leisure suit to wear on the team flight home, which is Part II of the Cubs' "Anchorman" themed road trip. He found it at a vintage store called "Flashback," and it fit perfectly.

Dexter Fowler, now leading off for the Cardinals, will receive his World Series ring on Friday in pregame ceremonies at Wrigley Field. Fowler batted .276 with the Cubs last season, and helped spark the team to the championship.

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.