CHICAGO – Joe Maddon wanted to make a point to home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi on Tuesday. The Cubs’ manager maintains he wasn’t arguing balls and strikes when Cuzzi ejected him from the game.
Cuzzi and Ben Zobrist exchanged words after a called third in the sixth inning. Zobrist later told Cuzzi, “That’s why we want an electronic strike zone,” and was ejected.
“I didn’t get angry with Phil yesterday,” Maddon said before Wednesday’s game. “There was no anger. That was just defending my guy. My biggest point there was, ‘You realize Ben Zobrist is arguing with you right now?’ That’s got to be a bad feeling.”
For the usually mild-mannered Zobrist, it was his first ejection in a big-league career that dates to 2006. The pitch in question might have been off the outside corner for ball four. Instead, Zobrist was sent down on strikes.
Zobrist didn’t like the call, and Cuzzi felt Zobrist’s comment went a little too far, hence the ejection. Maddon said he has no problem with Zobrist, or any of his players, saying what he thinks.
“Ben Zobrist unfiltered, unplugged,” Maddon joked. “I love Zo because Zo’s going to tell you exactly what he’s thinking. There’s no holding back. He said what he thought. I’m fine with it. Regardless of whether I agree or disagree with it, I’m fine with my guys saying what they think.”
Newfound speed: The Cubs acquired speedy outfielder Terrance Gore from the Royals for cash considerations Wednesday. Gore, 27, has not played in the big leagues this season.
It’s possible Gore could be a September call-up for the Cubs when rosters expand to 40, and potentially a situational runner in the postseason if the Cubs can find room for him.
Gore provided some key stolen bases as a pinch runner for the Royals during their World Series runs in 2014 and 2015. He has four postseason stolen bases in his career, despite not having a single postseason plate appearance.
In 49 career games with the Royals, he has 21 stolen bases. Gore still is looking for his first big-league hit in 14 plate appearances. This season in Triple A, Gore is 16 for 20 stealing bases with a .211 batting average in 67 games.
Darvish rehab stint? Maddon did not know Wednesday what the next step is for injured starting pitcher Yu Darvish, who threw a three-inning simulated game Tuesday.
Pitching coach Jim Hickey said Wednesday in a radio interview with WSCR-AM 670 that in a perfect world Darvish would make three rehab starts in the minor leagues Sunday, Aug. 24 and Aug. 29, and then rejoin the Cubs in September.
“If everything is good, then those are potential dates,” Maddon said.
Darvish has not pitched in a game for the Cubs since May 20. He has been out with biceps tendinitis in his throwing arm.