The Rundown: Maddon Feels Awkward, Fuel for Fire, Hendricks Solid in Rehab Start, Hawk Homers

Ed. note: While I’m often prone to sharing personal anecdotes, I generally stick to those that are funny or that, at least in my mind, are somehow analogous to the Cubs topic in question. That’s not really the case this time, though it did affect the content below. While the Cubs aren’t necessarily driving a ton of content right now as it is, I found myself lacking much in the way of either time or desire last night as I dealt with a family issue from afar. 

The full details of it don’t matter much, but suffice to say that anxiety is a real thing and it can legitimately hamper someone’s ability to function. And watching your child go through struggles is far worse than dealing with trials of your own. I’m not fishing for sympathy or hoping for pats on the back or whatever, just wanted to let you know why this Rundown is a little light.

After holding roughly 37 different public celebrations of last year’s World Series title, the latest celebration of the Cubs’ long-awaited triumph was about as flat as Jake Arrieta’s slider. Joe Maddon was awarded an All-Star jersey on Sunday, the result of his role as the NL manager for the Midsummer Classic. Unlike last year, though, it was a phalanx of coaches standing out there alongside him rather than players.

Well, Wade Davis got one, but he’s a bullpen guy and wasn’t one of the 19 Cubs named to last year’s ASG who made it possible for Maddon to manage in this one.

“That was the awkward moment, talking about it,” Maddon told the media in Miami on Monday. “To be presented a jersey on our field in front of all our fans and have none of our players out there was different. It was difficult.”

He’ll never say it, but I’d be willing to bet Maddon doesn’t actually want to be there in South Florida for the festivities. Given the dearth of Cubs in the contest and the way the first half played out, I can imagine there are several places he’d rather be than managing a bunch of other teams’ players in a game that doesn’t matter. Like, I bet he’d love kicking back and drinking some wine and just vegging out for a few days.

But hey, maybe he’ll get some new t-shirt ideas. Something like, “Embrace the sucky animated statue in center.” Or even, “That’s Cub. No, wait, that’s Dodger. And that’s D-back. Oh, and that’s Nat.”

Rest and burn

As much as the Cubs need these next few days to get a little R&R and maybe get out of their own heads a little bit, I’d also like to see them take the time to constructively channel any anger or disappointment they’ve got about their first-half performance. Left unchecked, anger can be a dangerous and corrosive emotion. Applied properly, though, it can be used to light a fire under a collective ass that can get said backside moving in a different direction.

While it’s impossible to chalk all or most of the Cubs’ issues to mental fatigue or [insert synonymous phrase here], there’s no denying that this team has lacked the same joie de vivre as we’ve seen over the previous two seasons. Can that be regained in less than a week? Does it need to be? My answers would be “maybe” and “yes,” for what it’s worth.

The Cubs can never go back to being the plucky underdogs, but they do have something of a challenge in front of them as they attempt to live out the plot arc of Major League II.

Hendricks looks good in rehab start

Kyle Hendricks only went 3.1 innings in his first live action in over a month, but he reportedly looked pretty good and was pain-free. Though he sat in the low-to-mid 80’s, the really encouraging aspect of this start was that he made it at all. The Cubs had said that Hendricks would not even begin a throwing program until his hand was 100 percent, so making the start after going through several bullpen and long-toss sessions in the past week or so signals that all systems are indeed go.

Reports this weekend were that Hendricks could be activated for the Baltimore series, so we’ll see what happens there. His return to the rotation will mean the likely departure of Eddie Butler, though the Cubs could run with a six-man crew for a turn or two. Mike Montgomery will be starting the first game of the second half and could also return to the bullpen after that. Decisions, decisions.

Hawk can still soar

Andre Dawson celebrated his 63rd birthday by smacking two home runs in the All-Star celebrity softball game last night, which is pretty incredible. I mean, I barely have warning-track power in softball as it is, and I’m 25 years younger than Hawk.

The fences are moved in quite a bit for events like this, but the former Cub managed to nearly clear the main wall at Marlins Park. That is crazy.

More news and notes

  • The latest rumor making the rounds is that the Cubs offered the Tigers Kyle Schwarber straight-up for Michael Fulmer
    • A couple of those baseball-bro Twitter accounts seem to be proliferating it
    • The source appears to be Jim “Ralph” Bowden, so take that for what it’s worth
    • It’d take a hell of a lot more than a single position player to pry loose a pitcher with Fulmer’s talent and cost-control (2023)
    • Not only are the Cubs not trading Schwarber, they’re not dumb enough to think he alone could land Fulmer
  • The saga of the Marlins sale continues
    • Miami businessman Jorge Mas may be in the lead with a $1.17B offer
    • Derek Jeter’s group, which now includes Michael Jordan, is said to be “closing in on a deal” worth $1.2B
  • Chris Carter has been released by the Yankees
  • Mike Trout will be back with the Angels by the end of the week
  • Cubs pitching phenom Jose Albertos looked good in his first action with the Eugene Emeralds
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