Chicago Cubs

Quade hops on board for wild ride with Cubs

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Quade hops on board for wild ride with Cubs

Friday, April 1, 2011
Posted: 4:19 p.m. Updated 6:07 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com
Mike Quade took the Red Line to work on Friday morning, another blue-collar grinder getting off at the Addison stop. The Cubs manager doesnt drive a fancy car or get escorted around by a limousine.

Its a fitting image for a guy who managed 17 seasons in the minors and the perfect cover for a group of millionaires the city seems slow to embrace on Opening Day.

People want to win here, Quade said. People want effort. They want a club that comes out and plays hard and earns their money. I think theyre going to get that right out of the chute. Lets hope the results follow.

Last summer, Quade took over a team that looked like it might be heading toward 100 losses. Fans had tuned out by then and theyre not sure what to make of that 24-13 finish. The manager grew up in Chicagos northwest suburbs and understands all the demands and expectations.

Out of uniform, with his head down and a hat on, the 51st manager in Cubs history can walk unrecognized through Wrigleyville. Maybe it can become a new drinking game in the bars around the stadium: Wheres Q?

Its kind of fun to get on the train and come to the ballpark and walk to Wrigley incognito to feel the excitement, Quade said. Im pretty good. Hey, look, with a face like this, you can put makeup on. You can do all sorts of stuff. I can put wigs on. I can do anything I want.

I cant help (but) try to get the flavor of the ballpark and the neighborhood, especially on a day like this.

Quade has been staying downtown this week but will eventually move back into a Lakeview apartment and walk to work most days.

Its hard to imagine Lou Piniella or Ryne Sandberg adding money to their CTA card and waiting on the platform. But the Cubs have moved away from the celebrity manager. Theyre committed to Quade, who has a two-year contract that includes a club option for 2013.

Quades a special cat, chairman Tom Ricketts said. The players really respect him. He communicates well. Hes engaged, hes energetic I think he has what it takes to get this team winning and keep us there until the end of the season.

When Quade got to the office on Friday morning, he made several phone calls to family and friends. The 54-year-old stays in shape, talks really fast and runs around the field.

That makes Quade seem younger than he actually is and almost makes you forget how long it took him to get this chance, the nights in Huntsville, Ala., and Harrisburg, Pa.

I thought about places Ive been and people that Ive worked for, Quade said. None of us get to where were at without help from a lot of good people. In spite of the craziness around here, I thought it was good to take a moment.

I cant call everybody, because if I did, I would miss the game, and maybe tomorrows.

Right hand on his heart, Quade stood front and center on the third-base line during the national anthem, and then it was on to the nine innings he usually finds so relaxing.

It will be fascinating to see how Quade responds to the public nature of this job, if hell get worn down or learn to love the spotlight.

After a 6-3 loss to the Pirates, the manager was asked if hell need a new disguise for the El ride back downtown: I got Pittsburgh gear.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Joe Maddon finally sees Cubs playing with the right 'mental energy'

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USA TODAY

Joe Maddon finally sees Cubs playing with the right 'mental energy'

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Joe Maddon looked back on the perfect baseball storm that hit the Tampa Bay Rays and played all the greatest hits for local reporters, waxing poetic about the banners hanging inside Tropicana Field, stumping for a new stadium on the other side of the Gandy Bridge, telling Don Zimmer stories, namedropping Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and riffing on sabermetrics and information buckets.

But the moment of clarity came in the middle of a media session that lasted 20-plus minutes, Maddon sitting up on stage in what felt like the locker room at an old CYO gym: “We only got really good because the players got really good.”

There’s no doubt the Cubs have the talent to go along with all the other big-market advantages the Rays could only dream about as the have-nots in the American League East. Now it looks like the defending champs have finally got rid of the World Series hangover, playing with the urgency and pitch-to-pitch focus that had been lacking at times and will be needed again in October.    

Maddon essentially admitted it after Tuesday’s 2-1 victory, watching his team beat Chris Archer and work together on a one-hitter that extended the winning streak to seven games and kept the Milwaukee Brewers 3.5 games back in the National League Central.

“You’re really seeing them try to execute in moments,” Maddon said. “When they come back and they don’t get it done, it’s not like they’re angry. But you can just see they’re disappointed in themselves.

“Their mental energy is probably at an all-season-high right now.”

Six days after the Cubs moved him to the bullpen, lefty swingman Mike Montgomery took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, when Tampa Bay’s No. 9 hitter (Brad Miller) drove a ball over the center-field wall. Maddon then went to the relievers he will trust in October – Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr., Wade Davis – with the All-Star closer striking out the side in the ninth inning and remaining perfect in save opportunities (32-for-32) as a Cub.       

“We want to go out there and prove every day that we’re the best team in baseball,” said Kyle Schwarber, the designated hitter who launched Archer’s 96-mph fastball into the right-center field seats for his 28th home run in the second inning. “The way our guys are just going out there and competing, it’s really good to see, especially this time of year. It’s getting to crunch time, and we just got to keep this same pace that we’re going at.

“Don’t worry about things around us. Just keep our heads down, keep worrying about the game and go from there.”     

In what’s been a season-long victory lap, Maddon couldn’t help looking back when the sound system started playing The Beach Boys and “Good Vibrations” echoed throughout the domed stadium, a tribute running on the video board and a crowd of 25,046 giving him a standing ovation.

“It was cool,” Maddon said. “I forgot about the bird, the cockatoo, I can’t remember the name. Really a cool bird. I told (my wife) Jaye I wanted one of those for a while. But then again, she gets stuck taking care of them.

“I was just thinking about all the things we did. You forget sometimes that snake. I think her name was Francine, like a 19-year-old, 20-footer. And then the penguin on my chair. You forget all the goofy stuff you did. But you can see how much fun everybody had.

“I appreciated it. They showed all my pertinent highlights. There’s none actually as a player. It’s primarily as a zookeeper.”

But within the last week, you can see the Cubs getting more serious, concentrating on their at-bats and nailing their pitches. There is internal competition for roster spots and playing time in the postseason, when Maddon becomes ruthless and doesn’t care at all about making friends. This just might be another perfect storm.

Montgomery – who notched the final out in the 10th inning of last year’s World Series Game 7 – put it this way: “I feel ready for anything after how this year’s gone.” 

Are Cubs lining up Jake Arrieta to start Game 1 vs. Nationals?

Are Cubs lining up Jake Arrieta to start Game 1 vs. Nationals?

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Are the Cubs lining up Jake Arrieta to start Game 1 against the Washington Nationals?

“I’m not even anywhere near that,” manager Joe Maddon said during Tuesday’s pregame media session with the Chicago media, immediately shifting his focus back to the decisions he would have to make that night – how hard to push catcher Willson Contreras coming off the disabled list, what the Cubs would get out of lefty Mike Montgomery, how the bullpen sets up – against the Tampa Bay Rays.

“Players can do that kind of stuff. I don’t think managers can. Honestly, I don’t want to say I don’t care about that. I just don’t worry about that, because there’s nothing to worry about yet. Because first of all, he’s got to be well when he pitches, too.”

Arrieta had just completed a throwing session at Tropicana Field and declared himself ready to face the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday at Miller Park. That would be the Cy Young Award winner’s first start since suffering a Grade 1 right hamstring strain on Labor Day. It would set him up to face the St. Louis Cardinals next week at Busch Stadium and start Game 162 against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field.

“The plan is to be out there Thursday,” said Arrieta, who would be limited to 75-80 pitches against the Brewers and build from there, trying to recapture what made him the National League pitcher of the month for August. “The good thing is the arm strength is there – it’s remained there – and I actually feel better for maybe having a little bit of time off.

“The idea is to be able to be out there the last game against Cincinnati – pretty much at full pitch count – and to be ready for the playoffs.”

Five days after that would be the beginning of the NL divisional round and what could be a classic playoff series between the defending champs and Dusty Baker’s Nationals. The Cubs started Jon Lester in Game 1 for all three playoff rounds during last year’s World Series run and their $155 million ace could open a Washington series with an extra day of rest.

“It’s inappropriate to talk about that now,” team president Theo Epstein said. “We have a lot of work to do, and those would be the guys that would help get us there in the first place. If you’re lucky enough to get into that situation, you’d just use all the factors. You guys all know – who’s going the best, who matches up the best, the most experienced – and we figure it out and go from there. But we’re still a good ways away from figuring that one out.”