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Maddon: 'Not Into' Traditional Bullpen Book

(CBS) New Cubs manager Joe Maddon is an avid reader, but there's one book he's not buying.

The traditional way of utilizing a bullpen.

Maddon was often unconventional in the usage of his bullpen in his nine years managing Tampa Bay, and he seems intent on bringing his ways to Chicago unless an All-Star closer walks through the door.

"I'm really not into that particular book ... The book on how to do things regarding baseball -- that book was written so long ago, it doesn't necessarily apply today," Maddon said in an interview on the Spiegel and Mannelly Show on Thursday.

"So you have to constantly understand it's a fluid situation, and you have to make amendments or adjustments as you move it forward regarding the bullpen usage. If you have a Mariano Rivera, absolutely, a Troy Percival in his prime, absolutely they got the ninth inning. But then you got to fill it in to the ninth. If you don't have that guy, it's about leverage situations and matchups and who's the better guy right now. The difficulty with that is you have to have those conversations in spring training. Before you ever leave camp, you tell different guys, 'Listen, you're not just a seventh-inning guy, you're not just the eighth-inning guy. You're the guy based on this part of the lineup or that part of the lineup. These are your strengths.' So you build your bullpen that way.

"I kind of like that freedom unless you have an absolute hammer at the end of the game."

Hector Rondon was the Cubs' primary closer in 2014, with 29 saves and a 2.42 ERA. Pedro Strop (2.21 ERA in 65 appearances) and Justin Grimm (3.78 ERA in 73 appearances) were Chicago's two most-used relievers this past season.

The only way that Maddon's mix-and-match bullpen usage works, he says, is to gain the trust of all his players and those in the organization, which is his priority in these upcoming weeks.

"First I need to know the personnel," Maddon said. "I do know (president of baseball operations) Theo (Epstein) well enough, philosophically and in general, so that's really comfortable, and the owners, so that's the part I really needed to get done first. What I don't know are the players, and I need to get to know the players and build relationships with the players and staff and the people within the organization, the scouting director, etc., minor league department. I really believe the first thing you got to do when you enter a new situation is build relationships. And once you do that, then we can have trust going back and forth. And once we have that, then we can have that discussion where we can disagree openly. Until trust actually exists, when you have those discussions, there's going to be pushback from one side or the other and people just aren't going to believe exactly or entirely what you're saying or even trying what you're asking them to do because there's no trust. Beyond everything else, it's about building relationships with everybody."

Click here to listen to Maddon's full interview with Spiegel and Mannelly, in which he also talks about Cousin Eddie, his precious and luxurious RV.


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