While the Cubs haven’t won a game this spring, several of the players have looked good over the first four games of the Cactus League schedule. Spring Training is about preparing for the games that count and Joe Maddon is happy with what he’s seen to this point.
Joe Maddon apparently really likes the coaching staff he inherited. With the exception of Dave Martinez, the entire coaching staff was in place before the Cubs hired Maddon. And once Martinez was on board, Brandon Hyde was shifted to first base coach.
While talking to the beat writers before Saturday’s game in Scottsdale, Maddon said he’s been impressed with the way Spring Training has gone and he feels like the head coach of a really good baseball university. Maddon labeled it ‘The Cub University’ where a “degree in liberal arts education in the field of baseball” is available.
Maddon said no one would be on scholarship because there is no entitlement program. It’s all earned at ‘The Cub University.’
Joe Maddon’s Post-Game Tweets
Following the Cubs exhibition game at Salt River Fields, Joe Maddon tweeted, “Our boys Respected 90 today. Montero and Soler high grades on defense! Bryant and Julius Szczur demonstrated backspin on a baseball. Love the aggressive baserunning. Want our guys not afraid to make mistakes. Fortune favors the bod! Shall become contagious.”
The Cubs have not announced signing LHP Phil Coke, but he completed a bullpen session for the Cubs on Saturday in between entertaining the beat writers. Joe Maddon spoke with Coke on Saturday according to multiple reports. Maddon expects Coke on the field for Sunday’s stretch.
While the Cubs have not made signing Coke officially official, he is scheduled to throw one more bullpen before pitching in a Cactus League game.
News, Notes and Rumors
• The players honored Ernie Banks during Saturday morning’s practice at the Cubs facility. Each player wore a t-shirt with “Let’s Play Two!” on the front and “14, Mr. Cub” on the back.
• Theo Epstein is fleshing out a winning team according to Rick Telander. And in the column, there is a blurb about Epstein thinking it’s embarrassing the front office does not speak Spanish. Epstein has hired a Spanish tutor to teach the front office how to speak the language. According to the report, the Cubs’ brass is taking lessons two mornings a week.
• For once, expectation returns the Cubs’ embrace according to Tyler Kepner.
• According to the Tribune, Joe Maddon thinks a way to promote baseball is to have players and coaches use Skype to talk and interact with them in classrooms. And Maddon sees fantasy baseball as a way kids can improve their math skills.
• Kyle Schwarber warmed up Jason Hammel on Saturday afternoon and pinch hit later in the game.
• Manny Ramirez took out the lineup card Saturday.
• It is very weird sitting at a baseball game and seeing a countdown clock. The new pace of play rules are being used and observed for the most part, but the clock is something that will have to get used to seeing.
• Joe Maddon and Dave Martinez at the top of the dugout steps for a Spring Training game … so refreshing to see a Cubs manager and bench coach that in tune with the players and the game.
• According to Jesse Rogers, Maddon was not unhappy with Javier Baez’s mechanics in the first inning of Friday’s game when he struck out swinging with a man on third and less than two outs. Maddon pointed out Baez swung at a bad pitch.
• Jake Arrieta envisions throwing a no-hitter with the Cubs according to Patrick Mooney.
• David Price would be interested in signing an extension with the Tigers. Dave Dombrowski has not approached him yet, but Price “expects the club to come to him sooner rather than later” according to a report from Hardball Talk.
• The White Sox released Tony Campana according to Baseball America. Campana tore his ACL and is out for the season, so the Sox released him from his contract. And the Yankees signed 1B Mat Gamel to a minor league contract.
• Several teams are taking big gambles on position shakeups according to Joel Sherman.
And last, but not least, Jon Lester tweeted Saturday, “Great atmosphere to get the spring started, thank you Cubs fans for all the support. Plenty to work on and build from! Here we go! #NVRQT.”
This Day In Cubstory
1981 – Cubs signed free agent Mick Kelleher
1976 – Ryan Freel, born
1942 – George Gerberman, born
1924 – Toby Atwell, born
1869 – Jim Hughey, born