Maddon unafraid to use reliever Edwards in any situation

MILWAUKEE - In two of the first three games of the season, young Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. saw action in the sixth and the eighth innings at St. Louis.

That should be no sweat for Edwards. After all, he was on the mound in the tenth inning of Game 7 of the World Series last fall.

The 25-year-old Edwards is one of the more intriguing pitchers on the Cubs staff. He stands 6-feet-3 and weighs 170, but he has a whip of a right arm, and that has people talking about him as a possible closer someday.

"He has come a long way, and part of that, I think, is the way we've used him, by not overusing him," manager Joe Maddon said Friday. "He was really well and healthy the last part of the season. Seventh game of the World Series, he was impactful. I think we have to continue to be mindful of that, moving him forward. He's still, physically, not a specimen. He's very good at what he does. I want to be mindful of that. When it comes down to counting on him, I think we all feel good about him being out there."

Edwards came up at the end of the 2015 season and got into five games. He made 36 appearances last season and eight more in the postseason.

"I'll put him in any situation, hot spot or whatever you want to call it," Maddon said. "No doubt. I don't want to lose the game in the sixth inning if that's the vital moment. He's the kind of guy you know that if you say, 'C.J., we need you in the sixth,' it's not going to impact his psyche. It's not like he's not going to be ready because you're surprising him. He'll be ready."

No defined roles:

Joe Maddon often will throw baseball convention out the window, and that goes for how he uses his bullpen.

Although Maddon said he likely won't use closer Wade Davis for more than three outs in a game, the rest of the bullpen is wide open. In other words, Maddon said he doesn't like to designate pitchers as only seventh-inning or eighth-inning pitchers.

"I don't want a seventh- or an eighth-inning guy," he said. "I think when you build guys up that way or you get their mindset that way and then you pigeonhole yourself in there, sometimes you're not going to like it. I went through a whole year without proclaiming a closer in Tampa Bay, but the same guy pitched in the ninth inning. But there was always the ability to pitch him in the eighth if you wanted to because it wasn't in his head that he was just a closer.

"It's just a method of retraining the way bullpen pitchers think. It got in everybody's head you've got to be a seventh-inning or an eighth-inning guy or the closer. I'm still with the closer concept. But the innings that happen before that should be wide open. You've just got to have guys learn how to be ready in advance."

Duensing begins rehab stint:

Left-handed reliever Brian Duensing, on the 10-day disabled list with a lower-back injury, pitched a perfect seventh inning Thursday for Class AAA Iowa as part of his rehab assignment.

Duensing went on the DL retroactive to March 30. There is no definite timetable for his return.

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