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Cub Tracks zeroes in

Montgomery war, KB’s tantrums, baseball can get weird, and other bullets

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Cubs lose. No meatloaf. Jim Steinman has a sad, too.

Here’s the news — as always * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs News and Notes:

The Diamondbacks made a minor league offer to right-hander John Lackey this offseason, writes USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, but the veteran righty passed on the opportunity. Coincidentally, Lackey’s friend and former teammate, Clay Buchholz, ultimately wound up in the D-backs organization on a similar deal and is now thriving in a rotation that has been hit hard by injuries. “I don’t bring that up to him now,” joked Buchholz, who still keeps in touch with Lackey, “because he’s a lot bigger than me. I don’t want to make him mad. But Lackey is a bulldog. I fully expect him to be with some club at some point this year. I know for a fact that he still works out and keeps his body ready.” Both Lackey and Buchholz, of course, are known commodities to D-backs GM Mike Hazen and assistant GMs Amiel Sawdaye and Jared Porter, each of whom has previously worked in the Boston front office. — Steve Adams.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence,” Mike Montgomery said. “I know if I go out there and execute the game plan and stay within myself, good things happen. I’ve always known that. I have a good feel for my pitches right now. It’s about just going out there and trying to get the job done. I’ve been around and I know what it takes to be good, and it’s just about going out there and doing it.”

“We get guys out there, but [we need to be] more consistent driving in a run when he’s out there. Every team laments the same situation. It’s where we’re at in the industry, it’s an all-or-nothing approach by a lot of guys. We’re trying to nurture a different method where you can score runs with singles and not just homers. We’re working on it, and it showed up a couple times recently. Today, it did not happen. I think that’s the missing link. Everybody is wanting more action in the game. We have to develop guys who are able to move the baseball and not just swing for the fences.” -- Joe Maddon, on the Cubs’ struggles with runners in scoring position. They stranded nine on Wednesday and went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

“It should be like this all year because they have a good team, they have a good group,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said of the tight division race. — Carrie Muskat.

  • Sara Freund (Curbed Chicago): Yu Darvish buys $4.55M Evanston home. “He’s asking the city to let him install a fence around the property.
  • Sam Fels (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Le-Ster! Le-Ster! The Ace we’ve been after. “One of the remarkable things about Lester is that he’ always had a plus season, except for one out of his 12 in the majors.”
  • NBC Sports Chicago: Yu Darvish denies saying he thinks Cubs fans hate him. [VIDEO].
  • Sahadev Sharma (The Athletic {$}): Darvish speaks: ‘I just want to take the time and process things slowly’. “Because I had a similar injury when I had Tommy John surgery, I’m more careful and more sensitive this time,” Darvish said.
  • Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune* {$}): After four starts, Montgomery proves he belongs in Cubs rotation. “As much as it makes sense to leave Montgomery in the rotation the rest of the season, it’s obviously not going to happen.”
  • Jessica Kleinschmidt, Carrie Muskat and Adam McCalvy (Cut Four*): Maddon flips Brian Duensing, Steve Cishek between P, OF. ”Baseball can get weird -- this is not a bad thing.”
  • Gordon Dixon (Larry Brown Sports): Oops! Cubs mistakenly gave Cishek prescription sunglasses. ”It was tough to see out there,” he said.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Cubs’ offense goes silent again, leaving Brewers in first place. “Every team laments the same situation,” Maddon said.
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Kris Bryant’s deep slump and private frustration. “It’s all about perspective …. It’s OK to slump as hitters,” Bryant said.
  • Tony Andracki (NBC Sports Chicago*): Bryant proves he’s actually human. “Sure, I have my temper tantrums,” Bryant said.
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): Why this Jason Heyward relaunch is working. “J-Hey’s one of the rocks of this team,” center fielder Albert Almora Jr. said.
  • Jeff Burdick (Cubs Insider): Heyward’s resurgence reflects success against power arms he’s had the whole time. “He’s the rare player who has more success against power pitchers than against any other style.”
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): Sources: Cubs finalizing deal with first-round pick Nico Hoerner. ”Team officials are planning for Hoerner to complete his physical this week at their Arizona complex and eventually begin his professional career with Class-A Eugene, a Northwest League affiliate that starts its season on Friday in Oregon.”

Food For Thought:

Thanks for reading.