As the sun beats down in Mesa, Arizona, the baby bears are about to embark on their journey to repeat as World Champions when spring games officially kick off tomorrow. Yes, real, live action baseball, is almost back. Oh, what a lovely day. Waiting for the first “play ball!” has seemed to take forever, but thankfully we’ve had plenty of news and happenings around camp to help fill the time.
Putting in Work
- Like any rock concert, you might not see the headliners right away as Mike Montgomery and Rob Zastryzny are prepping to start tomorrow’s split-squad games. Jake Buchanan and Brett Anderson are also getting ready as they will take the mound Sunday and Monday, respectively. In fact, we might not see any of the front four for quite some time as they are gradually eased into game action after a grueling post-season and shortened offseason.
- Speaking of pitchers, Tom Verducci outlined the Cubs’ hurlers who could be “hidden gems” this upcoming season, and what each one is doing to make an impact. Eddie Butler, Casey Kelly and Alec Mills (along with Brett Anderson) are all doing what they can with a fresh start under the tutelage of Chris Bosio. Time will tell if these guys can take a step forward with the Cubs, but Bosio is emphasizing a “be yourself” campaign that allows them to focus on what they do best. It’s also interesting that Alec Mills has been assigned to shadow Kyle Hendricks after self-associating with his pitching style. Bosio is the best chance these guys have at breaking out, and they all seem ready to step up to the challenge.
Former top prospect in the Red Sox org, Casey Kelly gets ready to throw live BP at Sloan Park pic.twitter.com/iSENyB7uLG
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) February 23, 2017
- The players are focused on getting stronger, faster and better as they perform strength and conditioning in the gym. The team looks like they are prepping for their next batch of video board highlights for the regular season as @Cubs documents the training.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) February 22, 2017
- Also getting bigger and better? The Bryzzo Souvenier Company. The duo and a mystery guest are back for another edition of shenanigans and I for one can’t wait to see what they reveal.
— Anthony Rizzo (@ARizzo44) February 22, 2017
- Lastly, Joe Maddon has been put in some work on his lineup as he’s already dubbed Kyle Schwarber as his pick for leadoff man during the regular season. As the article notes, Schwarber’s ability to get on base is why he was chosen for the job. Starting every game with The Hulk, Bryant, Rizzo and presumably, Zobrist? Good luck, pitchers. It’s going to be very fun to watch.
- Tim Buss stole Addison Russell’s “vroom, vroom” as he crashed camp with a Ferrari convertible. Right before Joe Maddon was to deliver a speech on staying humble, Buss pranked the skipper by driving straight onto the field to cheers and applause. It’s that kind of attitude that helps keep the Cubs loose and builds clubhouse chemistry.
- If CBS is in need of sitcom ideas, Joe & Miggy might be their next smash hit. Wanting to talk away from the field, the veteran catcher had dinner with his manager to hash out his post-World-Series comments, as well as any other issues the two may have had. All seems to be right with the world. Miggy is embracing his role as a mentor and backup catcher and Joe can move past the comments about playing time coming from his own players.
- Finally, the Cubs gave a little back to the community by bringing some youth patients from Advocate Kids to camp. It’s always nice to see the players bring such big smiles to kids in need, and they all seem really willing to give their time in moments like this.
Sometimes, you just need a day at the ballpark.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) February 22, 2017
Finally, the focus is shifting to games as we get one-step closer to the regular season and real baseball games. While we can’t put a ton of stock in spring performances, it’s still exciting to see the World Series Champions take the field for the first time since winning it all. Can’t wait.
Lead photo courtesy Rick Scuteri—USA Today Sports