CHICAGO – Cubs manager Joe Maddon prefers night games to day games, and he’ll get another night game Friday when the Cubs host the Cincinnati Reds.
The team announced Wednesday night that Friday’s game has been moved from 1:20 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. The switch, which needed approval from the city of Chicago, was made to help ease a scheduling burden.
The Cubs and the Washington Nationals will play a makeup game Thursday at 3:05 p.m. in Washington, and the Cubs will fly home after that. Last season, the Cubs played their first regular-season Friday night game in September to provide relief after a Thursday night game at Pittsburgh. The team’s agreement with the city prohibits them from playing Friday night home games during the regular season.
“To play later in the day Friday would definitely be a boon to us somehow,” Maddon said. “The thought of playing in Washington and getting out of there late, we do gain an hour coming back, obviously. But nevertheless, the later start, just a little bit of rest, a little bit of sleep will help the guys a lot.”
Morrow optimistic: Brandon Morrow threw “about 35 pitches” off the bullpen mound Wednesday, and the erstwhile Cubs closer said he may be ready for game action by the end of next week.
The Cubs will play the White Sox in a three-game series Sept. 21 to 23 at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“I feel like I’m on the right track and like I’m getting stronger and progressing toward a [simulated] game, which I don’t have a date for, but it should be in the next 2, 3, 4 days,” he said.
“I wouldn’t say I unleashed, but I definitely gave it a little bit more extra. They have all the equipment down there, too, so I was pleasantly surprised with some of the velocities toward the end of it.”
Morrow has been on the disabled list since mid-July with right biceps inflammation. The Cubs signed him to a two-year contract in December to be their closer after he worked primarily as a setup man for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He appeared in all seven World Series games last fall.
Pedro Strop has picked up the slack at the back end of the bullpen, and he entered Wednesday with 13 saves. The Cubs won’t throw Morrow back into the closer’s role when he first comes back, and he might not close for the rest of the regular season or the postseason, if the Cubs make it.
“I don’t think it matters,” he said. “We’ve got guys to cover all the innings. I’m hoping to be back and contribute in any way. I don’t think it matters what inning it is for me. I’m just looking to coming back and contributing.”
Darvish undergoes procedure: The Cubs said pitcher Yu Darvish underwent an arthroscopic cleanup of his right elbow Wednesday after getting a second medical opinion.
Darvish has not pitched since May as he has been out since then with right triceps tendinitis and elbow discomfort.
The Cubs said Wednesday’s procedure was minimally invasive and that they expect Darvish to be fully recovered by spring training.
Score that one a hit: Maddon said he’d like batters to get credit for a hit on balls misplayed by infielders playing in the outfield while shifting.
“I think if a second baseman is playing on the outfield grass and the ball’s hit to him and he’s unable to complete the play, the hitter should get a hit on that play,” Maddon said. “If you want to create some kind of fairness or standard within the game, you’ve already put the [batter] at a disadvantage by putting the fielder in such a depth situation.
“... But if the guy can’t make a play and he starts on the grass and ends on the grass, you’ve got to give that [batter] a hit because that is no longer a routine play.
“Last point, when you’re fielding the ball off the grass, it’s totally different than fielding it off the dirt. There’s a different everything about it.”
Time change: The Cubs' home game Friday against the Cincinnati Reds has been changed from 3:05 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. The Cubs travel to Washington on Thursday for a 3:05 p.m. makeup game against the Nationals.