Taking a spin gets Maddon's wheels spinning

Psst. Here's a clue on how to get the scoop on Cubs manager Joe Maddon's starting lineup on a given day:

Get yourself a bike and find a path somewhere around Wrigley Field.

"I'm not kidding, when I can get my bike ride in and go out and just ride the bike and just focus on the day, I kind of feel better about my day when I can do that," Maddon said Saturday when asked about formulating his lineups. "A lot of that would be working the different thoughts with all these guys and how it's going to play.

"That part of the day is really important to me. That's why I talk about not having to come to the ballpark at 11. I'd much prefer to be in a more creative setting to think and normally, that's outside. Normally, that's riding a little bit. I like getting my information via iPad so I can sit there, cup of coffee, cup of tea in the morning and just pore over this stuff. These are my methods. This is what I do."

There's a still a ways to go before the Cubs get to Cactus League games, and Maddon apologized for disappointing those who want to know if he had sketched out a lineup card yet.

"Once I start actually being on the field with the guys and start thinking about it a little bit more," he said of when asked when a lineup might emerge. "We'll talk to the coaches, the guys who have seen these guys. We will, of course, talk to Theo (team president Epstein) and Jed (GM Hoyer) and the guys who help with the analytics department to try to look at the overall picture."

Maddon was known for a plethora of different lineups when he ran the Tampa Bay Rays, and no doubt he'll run out different batting orders on a regular basis with the Cubs, both during the exhibition and regular seasons.

That part is really no big deal. Most managers nowadays mix and match.

What I thought would be more interesting to know is whether Maddon has any theories about lineup construction.

That got him wound up.

"The old Dal Maxvill hitting second or Teddy Sizemore (both with the Cardinals years ago), it's not really that big anymore, about the bunting the guy with the second-place hitter," he began. "Part of it could be whenever you do want to hit the pitcher eighth and somebody else ninth how that bleeds into 2 and 3. Of course, you're looking for protection for your better hitters.

"There's all different things that I look at, but I really don't know our guys that well yet until I see them on the field. You know that I'm not going to be afraid of trying different things."

At last month's Cubs convention, Maddon alluded to the pitcher batting eighth instead of ninth. It's something that Tony La Russa did in recent years with the Cardinals. Maddon said he wouldn't do it all the time.

"Here's the overarching theory with that: If you got a pitcher who you believe is going to go deeply into the game, you only would want to hit him ninth and delay the decision to pinch hit for him," he said. "If you have a pitcher that's got a history of maybe going 5 or possibly 6 innings, you may want to hit him eighth, possibly attempt to pinch hit for him sooner as opposed to later. That one spot can make all the difference.

"The other idea would be to hit the guy you would normally hit fourth, you could possibly hit third because you have a ninth-place hitter who gets on base.

"The No. 1 thought would be who the pitcher is. Jon Lester would probably always hit ninth. You expect him to go more deeply into the game."

So when it all shakes out, figure on Dexter Fowler leading off with Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro in the middle.

As for the rest of it, well, you're just going to have to get on your bicycle and find Joe.

• Follow Bruce's Cubs and baseball reports via Twitter@BruceMiles2112.

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