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Dillon Maples isn't consumed by the Cubs' numbers game: 'I know what I'm capable of'

After a breakthrough season that resulted in a September promotion to the major leagues, Dillon Maples isn't about to get obsessed with the Cubs' numbers game. “I don't pay attention to any of that stuff,” said Maples, the hard-throwing rookie reliever who struck out 100 in 52 appearances

After a breakthrough season that resulted in a September promotion to the major leagues, Dillon Maples isn’t about to get obsessed with the Cubs’ numbers game.

“I don’t pay attention to any of that stuff,” said Maples, the hard-throwing rookie reliever who struck out 100 in 52 appearances at three minor-league levels. “I haven’t done that throughout my career, and I’m not going to start now. I know what I’m capable of. Everyone knows when things are going right, you don’t need numbers to tell you.

“So I keep out of that. When I have peeked into it, it gets cloudy, and I want clarity of thought at all times.”

In an effort to improve on his control, Maples, 25, has gradually changed his offseason workout routine with the help of a trainer in his native North Carolina. After a two-month break from throwing, Maples and his trainer focused on baseball-specific work instead of weight lifting.

“In my case, I’ve never had a problem working out or gaining weight. I know I’m going to take care of that. It’s part of the job. But it’s more the mental approach and taking care of my stuff. I want to make sure that takes priority over weight lifting.”

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Maples, who walked 37 in 63 1/3 innings in the minors, struck out 11 but walked six in 5 1/3 innings covering six appearances with the Cubs last September. He was grateful for staying healthy for the first time since joining the organization in 2011.

But the experience of getting promoted was invaluable as he tries to earn a spot on an eight-man bullpen.

“I feel very comfortable where I’m at,” said Maples, who is in his first major league spring training camp. “I’ve gotten into a nice routine, but last year was big. In talking to the older guys, see what they did throughout the offseason. I’ve been able to come in and feel comfortable.”

Manager Joe Maddon believes Maples merely needs to throw his fastball consistently for strikes because his slider constantly is around the plate enough to entice batters.

“Once he learns to throw a fastball for a strike where he wants to, that’s when he’s going to take off,” Maddon said.

mgonzales@chicagotribune.com

Twitter@MDGonzales

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