Maddon gives Heyward the weekend off

Maddon gives Heyward the weekend off

DENVER -- Mired in a 6-for-41 slump, Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward has been given the weekend off.

Manager Joe Maddon gave Heyward the night off on Thursday, a day game after a night game, and decided to stretch the hiatus until Monday, when the team travels to San Diego.

"Just look at the schedule, and that will tell you a lot of times what to do," Maddon said. "We're going to give him a couple days off and just chill out a little bit and come back for sure on Monday in San Diego. I'll play him in an emergency only, otherwise I want him to chill out."

Heyward has been receiving extra days off lately; he was out of the lineup in four games over the last 12 days.

"We had a great conversation," Maddon said. "I think all professional athletes and all professionals in general, if you just sit there and have a straight-up conversation with people, all sides get it. It sounded like a good idea to him also. It was very easy to do."

Maddon hopes that the time off will refresh Heyward, whose batting average is down to .225 after hitting a career-high .293 last season. Maddon used a similar strategy when he managed the Rays, most notably with star third baseman Evan Longoria.

"I've given guys two days off already this year," Maddon said. "I like to take advantage of the day before a day off and the day after a day off. You get guys two days off."

The main beneficiaries of the move appear to be outfielders Jorge Soler and Matt Szczur. Soler is 11-for-33 since the Cubs recalled him from Triple-A Iowa, and Szczur is hitting .395 in the second half and a career-high .309 overall.

Szczur has taken a big step forward this season, as he has an .853 OPS against both right- and left-handers. For his career he has an .832/.675 split but is showing the skill set of an everyday player.

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.