Joe Maddon sets his Cubs’ theme while changing his routine a bit for 2019

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Joe Maddon watches the Cubs during spring training workouts in Mesa on February 12th.

MESA, Ariz. — There is a lot for Joe Maddon to digest this spring training compared to years in the past.

For the first time as a member of the Cubs, Maddon is facing a contract year, with his deal expiring at the end of the 2019 season. He’s coming off a 95 win season, but one that was viewed by many as a letdown after an exit from the playoffs in the Wild Card game.

At least one thing is going to stay the same this spring and this season — Maddon’s creation of a theme for the Cubs as they get ready for the upcoming season.

“Own it Now” is the slogan set by the manager, saying that it’s in the final stages of being implemented in the team’s camp.

“I think our guys do understand that concept. It’s just a matter of emphasizing that, really putting it out there, giving it a definition, and a big part of our success this year is going to be the fact that we own each moment. So I thought ‘Own it Now,'” Maddon said. “You take the word ‘Now’, you turn it around, it becomes ‘Won.’ So if we get in the habit of owning the moment, we’ve got a pretty good chance of winning it by the end of the year. So ‘Own it Now.'”

While a theme is in place like before, Maddon continues his theme of change with the way he’ll approach managing players this year. The manager said he’ll be more hands-on in his work with the Cubs this season, spending less time with the media or with others to focus more on the teaching aspect of the game.

In particular, Maddon discussed his desire to work with hitters to help the Cubs improve their offense, which let them down at the 2018 season.

“There is a particular part that I’d like to get more involved with. I’ve already talked with some of the players. I’ve already done some of this in the past, like I said, but it might be somewhat more obvious this year than just seeing me out there working a little bit differently.  But, for an example, it be like hitting or situational hitting component, it enters other thing,” said Maddon. “Look I liked to coach. There’s a difference between managing and coaching, there is a total difference between the two things.

“I really enjoy managing, but when you’re a coach and you’re actually coaching players, when you’re watching the game, which I do, you watch the game, there’s a different emotion about someone internally, about someone you worked with that way or in the last two weeks or whatever. So I’ve always enjoyed the coaching component from this visceral reaction that you get internally, not to get a pat on the back. But regardless, you are just a little more involved in that moment, when you’ve actually coached somebody.”

It’s something that Maddon plans to own now as he starts his fifth and potentially final season with the Cubs.

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