CHICAGO — Tucked among a storage unit that houses some of Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s personal belongings is a framed poster bearing the image of Jackie Robinson.
For years, the poster hung in the visiting manager’s office at old Yankee Stadium. Then the manager of the Rays, who played in the final game at the famed park, Maddon asked clubhouse manager Lou Cucuzza Jr. if he could purchase the poster. It wasn’t for sale, Maddon was told. But he could have it and the poster immediately became one of Maddon’s prized baseball collectibles.
“If you have [courage], if that’s part of your makeup, you can be a lot of different things,” Maddon said before Monday’s Braves-Cubs game, a makeup from April 15 when Jackie Robinson Day was celebrated around the Major Leagues. “But if you’re lacking that one quality, it’s very difficult to include the rest of the better qualities in life. [Robinson] is all of that — he speaks to courage and I’ve always respected that about him.”
Players from both teams wore jerseys bearing No. 42 to honor Robinson, and jerseys and caps alike had a “42” patch stitched onto them. While baseball sets a day aside each season to honor Robinson, players acknowledge that the tradition never gets old.
“[Robinson] changed baseball for a great reason,” Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber said. “Just the way that he handled it and faced adversity, it’s a great example for all of us to learn from. You can’t thank that guy enough for what he did for the game of baseball, because he changed it positively for everyone.”
Braves catcher Tyler Flowers was on the disabled list on April 15 and would have missed Jackie Robinson Day had the weather cooperated in Chicago. Back in the lineup on Monday, Flowers said he is grateful to have the chance to wear No. 42.
“I’ve always thought it’s a very special day to reflect and remember the people that kind of set the stage before us and what they had to go through, specifically Jackie and other players who broke ground to give opportunities to players behind them,” Flowers said.
Braves shortstop Charlie Culberson was glad to see the game rescheduled, allowing Robinson to be honored in Chicago.
“We’re a month late on it, but there’s a reason why Jackie has his own day,” Culberson said. “What he did for this game and more than just the game of baseball.”
Jeff Arnold is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago. John Jackson contributed to this story. Atlanta Braves will wrap up a seven-game road trip on Monday with a quick stop at Wrigley Field to face the Chicago Cubs. Monday’s game was originally slated to be played back on April 15 but was rescheduled due to inclement weather.
Following Monday’s game, both teams will fly back to Atlanta where they will begin a three-game series at SunTrust Park on Tuesday.
Atlanta comes in playing well going 5-1 on their current road trip. At 24-15, the Braves lead the NL East by one full game over the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Cubs dropped a 5-3 decision to the White Sox on Sunday and enter Monday’s game 21-16 and 1.0 game out of first in a tightly contested NL Central.
The two teams split games in that earlier series with Atlanta winning the opener 4-0 behind a strong outing by Anibal Sanchez. The Braves led 10-2 after four in the second game but were undone by a nine-run eighth inning.
Julio Teheran will get the nod on Monday for the Braves and will be looking to pick up where he left off in his last outing. Teheran allowed four hits over six shutout innings against the Phillies in his last start and hasn’t allowed a run in his last 13 innings. He has held opponents to two runs or less in five of his last six starts.
Jose Quintana has quietly put together a good stretch of his own. Quintana allowed five hits and one run over six innings in a win over Miami last time out. He has allowed one earned run over his last 17.0 innings. He was tagged for three unearned runs two starts ago against the Cardinals.
Quintana is 2-0 in three career starts against the Braves but hasn’t exactly pitched well allowing 21 hits and 12 runs in just 14 innings.
Darvish’s first season in Chicago has been a struggle so far. Tuesday’s game will be his first appearance since May 2 when he was tagged for seven hits including three home runs and five earned runs over just 4.1 innings. He missed his last scheduled start due to flu-like symptoms and was placed on the disabled list.
Darvish’s only other career appearance against the Braves came earlier this season where he allowed nine hits and four runs in just 4.2 innings.
Mike Foltynewicz has been one of the bigger surprises for the Braves this season. Folty bounced back from his first rough outing of the season last time out allowing three hits and one unearned run over five innings against the Marlins. Plagued by consistency issues in the past, Foltynewicz has allowed two earned runs or less in seven of his eight starts this season.
Tyler Chatwood is 3-0 and has allowed just six earned runs over his last four starts but has been walking the tightrope thanks to some control issues. During that span (22.0 innings) he has walked 18 batters including 10 over his last two starts. He has 32 walks on the season in just 37.2 innings. He has limited hitters to just a .202 average against on the season and that has helped him overcome the walks.
McCarthy came out of the gates strong allowing nine earned runs in his first six starts combined. He has been lit up in his last two allowing 23 hits and 14 runs in just 8.1 innings. Command issues have largely been to blame as opponents are hitting .535 against him during May.
McCarthy has pitched well in his career against the Cubs allowing just three earned runs over 24.1 innings.Jon Lester is off to a good start in 2018 and will get the start in the series finale on Thursday. Lester allowed four hits and one run over 5.2 innings in his last start against the White Sox. He has allowed three earned runs or less in seven of his eight starts this season.
A costly fifth inning error by Jose Bautista put a big of a damper on Mike Soroka’s last start but the 20-year old rookie has been otherwise impressive. After holding the Mets to one run over six innings in his debut, Soroka struggled with his command in a loss to the Giants. He challenged himself to be more aggressive and was in control before that error proved costly in a big inning for the Marlins.
Soroka allowed eight hits but only one of his five runs allowed was earned. He struck out seven and walked just on over 4.2 innings. His down and away slider was a weapon and he walked out of that outing feeling good despite the result.