Almora, Machado share laugh on HR trot

Almora, Machado share laugh on HR trot

BALTIMORE -- When the Cubs' Albert Almora Jr. homered to lead off the third inning on Saturday night, he said something to Orioles third baseman Manny Machado as he trotted past him. Whatever it was made Machado laugh.

Almora and Machado grew up in Miami and starting playing baseball together when they were 3 and 5 years old, respectively. They were on the same teams until they were 15, and on Saturday, they were together on a Major League field for the first time.

"I texted him and he thought about it and said, 'This is crazy,'" Almora said Sunday.

As Almora was rounding second base after the home run, he peeked at Machado.

"He was looking down and trying not to laugh," Almora said. "I know my family was watching, I'm sure his was, too. It was pretty special."

Almora Jr.'s RBI single

John Lackey, on the disabled list with plantar faciitis in his right foot, will be activated in time to start Tuesday against the Braves. The right-hander last pitched on July 5 against the Rays and posted his seventh quality start, giving up three runs over six innings.

One thing the Cubs aren't considering is having Lackey pitch in relief.

"I believe he's going to have a really good second half," Maddon said. "[His foot] was bothering him and I'm watching him now and he looks very focused to me. I think the break helped him a lot, combined with getting well. For us, there's no speculation internally [that he'd move to the bullpen]. ... As long as he's healthy, I think you'll see a better version than you saw in the first half. He likes being part of the moment."

Lackey's solid outing

Lackey has pitched once in relief in the regular season in 2004 with the Angels, and three times in the postseason, most recently '13 with the Red Sox.

Kyle Hendricks, on the DL with inflammation in his right hand, will make his second rehab start on Monday for Double-A Tennessee. Hendricks is expected to throw 65-75 pitches over five innings. If all goes well, he could activated for the Cubs' series against the Cardinals next weekend.

• The Cubs' next Interleague series will be July 24-27 against the White Sox, which includes two games playing under American League rules. Having a designated hitter makes a difference.

"It's such a different game," Maddon said. "It's incredible that it's the same field and all that kind of stuff, but from the dugout, it's so different. From our perspective, getting our ninth guy out there [in the lineup], there's definitely a different feel playing in a different situation, different rules."

The Cubs also play host to the Blue Jays from Aug. 18-20 and travel to St. Petersburg to face the Rays from Sept. 19-20 to complete their Interleague schedule this year.

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.