Cubs, Indians meet for Game 8

MESA, Ariz. -- The running joke around Cubs camp this past weekend was that Game 8 of the World Series happened Sunday.The Cleveland Indians traveled across the Valley of the Sun to meet the Chicago Cubs at Sloan Park. These two teams previously met last...

Cubs, Indians meet for Game 8

MESA, Ariz. -- The running joke around Cubs camp this past weekend was that Game 8 of the World Series happened Sunday.

The Cleveland Indians traveled across the Valley of the Sun to meet the Chicago Cubs at Sloan Park. These two teams previously met last on Nov. 2 under more serious circumstances, serious as in Game 7 of the World Series.

You may remember the Cubs rallied from a three-games-to-one deficit and recovered from a late-inning disaster at Progressive Field in Cleveland to win their first World Series since 1908.

In mock seriousness, Cubs manager Joe Maddon would not discuss "Game 8" on Saturday, saying the Cubs had a pair of split-squad games to play.

The embargo was lifted Sunday.

"It's here; it's upon us," Maddon said. "The lineups are a little bit different than at the end of the season. Really, it's just another spring training game."

That it was.

The game ended in a 1-1 tie.

With the World Series having gone until Nov. 2, the Cubs and Indians found themselves back at work in the blink of an eye.

"It's such a fast winter, man," Maddon said. "It's fast and furious. Sitting in the dugout (Saturday), kind of awkward because you played late, but still you go through that spring training moment where you've got to get your mind working a method that you normally utilize. I was talking to Jonesy (third-base coach Gary Jones) about it because when I used to coach third base, you'd get to spring training and it was like you never coached third base before.

"It's just weird how we react. That's why spring training, all the little things that we do that sometimes are redundant sometimes also players frown upon because they're major-league players, I've always kind of gotten a kick out of that because as a coach and a manager, we analyze this much more than a player ever does. We need it. We need it every camp."

Many Cubs have no doubt watched replays of the World Series games, as well as the documentary, over and over again. Not Maddon.

"I really haven't," he said. "You get busy. I don't know. I didn't do that with the Angels. I didn't do that with the Rays. I probably will a couple years from now. But for right now, I'm pretty good. I prefer reruns -- of TV shows."

"First memory, groundball to third," he said of the final play of Game 7, the grounder to Kris Bryant. "That's about it. It really boils down to that. Down 3-1 (in games) was pretty significant. I think KB's home run to left-center (in Game 5) was large. The home run to left-center, groundball to third probably are the two things."

The Cubs are out to defend their title this season. They won last year with a roster full of young players.

For Maddon, that experience can be only beneficial to those players.

"Yes, all the guys that participated, what it could do to a C.J. (Carl Edwards Jr.), what it could do (Mike) Montgomery, all these guys, (Willson) Contreras. They all played.

"Like I've always talked about, a mind once stretched has a difficult time going back to its original form. I think it's a classic example of that. Having been through that moment, the next time you get even close to that, it's just different. You've been there, done that. I don't mean in complacent method. It's just a matter that mentally you can handle that situation.

"More than anything, I like the idea that all these guys, the whole group is pretty young. What we were able to accomplish last year is pretty special. It should carry over."

• Follow Bruce's baseball reports on Twitter @BruceMiles2112.

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