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Joe Maddon says the 2017 Cubs are going to be “authentic”

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Cubs manager Joe Maddon likes the cosmic, big picture stuff. He comes up with themes and slogans for entire seasons or parts of seasons. Thinks about larger and broader motivational things and talks about them far more than he talks about the Xs and Os of baseball.

Last year, for example, he talked about expectations and “embracing the target” that others set for the Cubs, which runs contrary to how most people in baseball talk about external expectations. This year he’s talking up something else. From ESPN Chicago:

Coming up with a new slogan for a new challenge has been an offseason goal for the Cubs’ third-year manager. “Authenticity” is the foundation of his message.
“It’s a great word to bring an entire message from,” Maddon said. “Get in front of the group that first day in spring training. Just think of that word: ‘authentic’ and ‘authenticity’ and the positives that can be derived from that.”

I’m not sure how the concept of “authenticity” translates to baseball motivation and preparation. It seems like a key part of being an elite athlete is believing a lot of impossible things as a means of psyching yourself up to do things most people can’t do. And people smarter than me have talked a lot about how transparency and authenticity can, in some contexts, hinder leadership.

But I suppose figuring out how to navigate such philosophical minefields is why they pay Joe Maddon the big bucks.

The Red Sox are calling up Rafael Devers

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Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox are calling up third base prospect Rafael Devers. He’ll be in Seattle for the start of the three-game set between the Sox and Mariners.

Devers, 20, is the top prospect in the Boston system according to MLB Pipeline. He has spent most of his season with Double-A Portland, where he hit .300/.369/.575 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI in 320 plate appearances. He was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after the All-Star break. In eight games with Pawtucket, Devers hit .355/.412/.581 with two home runs and four RBI.

There is still just over a week until the non-waiver trade deadline, but perhaps the Red Sox seem confident Devers can be the answer to the third base problem.

Stephen Strasburg exited Sunday’s start with an apparent injury

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It’s not a good day if you’re a star starting pitcher. First Clayton Kershaw, now Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals’ right-hander lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks, leaving with an apparent injury. Strasburg held the D-Backs to a hit and three walks with two strikeouts without allowing a run. Matt Grace relieved him in the third inning.

Including Strasburg’s two innings on Sunday, he’s carrying a 3.25 ERA with a 141/37 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings.

The Nationals should pass along word on Strasburg’s condition shortly.