Among many tweaks the Cubs targeted this offseason were stronger veteran leadership and the need for more consistent lineups. The former overcame the latter Sunday morning when several Cubs players went to Joe Maddon to request that David Bote be inserted into the starting nine after initially being slated to sit.
According to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, the scene unfolded sort of like in Rudy, with (probably) Ben Zobrist leading Bote’s teammates in advocating for his inclusion after he launched two tanks Saturday night.
A pretty incredible thing happened with the Cubs lineup today. Joe Maddon determines who’s playing in each series before it begins and tells the players ahead of time. David Bote was not supposed to be playing today but after hitting 2 long home runs on Saturday, the player who was supposed to play — very likely its Ben Zobrist — went to Maddon, along with other vets, and said Bote should be in there. He’s batting fifth and Zobrist is sitting.
That explains why it took longer than usual for the Cubs to post the lineup, especially since it needs to be cleared through the commissioner’s office first. It’s also a good sign that the changes the Cubs talked so much about are working. Maddon is setting things up with more notice, but the players are taking charge and pushing for improvements when appropriate.
This is also a testament to the respect Bote has in the clubhouse, which is a big part of why the Cubs made the unorthodox move to extend him at the start of the season. This wouldn’t happen for a guy who woke up on third thinking he’d hit a triple or who rubbed teammates the wrong way.