Countdown to Cubs Cactus League Opener: 13 Days
The Cubs first official on-field workout is today as the pitchers and catchers in big league camp get to work in preparation for the upcoming season.
Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Joe Maddon met with the beat writers Friday and Maddon confirmed the theme for the season is ‘Embrace the Target.’ Maddon explained he’s a “big believer of running towards the fire as opposed to away from it.”
“The target’s gotten bigger. We have to embrace the target and while you’re doing that, understand what that means. That’s what I’m going to do tomorrow with the guys and when the whole group gets in … apply a definition with that that they can wrap their minds around.”
Maddon said the inspiration for Embrace the Target “came from Jack Ryan … the fictional character created by author Tom Clancy.” According to the report from Tony Andracki, “In ‘Clear and Present Danger,’ Ryan (played by Harrison Ford) convinces the president to ‘embrace the target’ instead of running away from a possible scandal.”
“I don’t want us to become outcome-biased or outcome-based,” Maddon told the beat writers. “Yes, talk about playoffs. Yes, talk about winning the division. Yes, talk about playing the last game of the season and winning it. But you don’t want to just get caught up in that thought. And ‘Embrace the Target’ … what does that mean? You talk about expectations and the word ‘pressure’ that are attached to it, which I believe are really positive words. So you take those concepts and those thoughts and what does that lead to? To me, that leads to really focusing on the day, focusing on the process of the day. And the process needs to be our anchor.
“People are saying really nice things about us. That’s good. But at the end of the day, we have to take care of our own business and that is about utilizing the processes and the anchor on a daily basis.”
- Report from Comcast SportsNet
- Report from Bruce Levine
- Report from Tim Brown
- Report from David Haugh
Joe Maddon’s team takes the first step toward the regular season today with PFPs and pitchers throwing off mounds. Maddon told his coaching staff Friday there is plenty of time in Spring Training to get the players ready for the season. His two biggest concerns this spring are that the Cubs are “ready on the first day and that nobody’s injured.”
Joe Maddon was asked about lineup possibilities Friday, specifically which players he is thinking about batting at the top of his order. Zobrist and Heyward are candidates to bat leadoff and hit one-two for the Cubs this season.
Maddon hasn’t “written anything down in pen” and knows Ben Zobrist would be comfortable hitting in the leadoff spot. Maddon said he has to talk to Jason Heyward and find out his “feelings about it and work from there.”
The assumption has been Heyward or Zobrist would bat one-two in Maddon’s lineup. Heyward has stated publicly in the past he does not like batting leadoff.
According to the Sun-Times, Maddon will “let spring play out before making one of the few decisions he figures to have in camp.” Maddon would prefer to alternate his lineup with lefties and righties to make it harder on the opposing manager to play matchups at the end of games.
Maddon has not decided how often he is going to bat his starting pitcher eighth this season.
Spring Starting Pitching Plans and the Unique Pitching Staff
The Cubs confirmed Friday that “some starters” will have their first starts in the Cactus League pushed back. Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey will likely get in their early work this spring during B-games or against minor leaguers.
According to multiple reports, Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill, Clayton Richard and Adam Warren will be used as starters this spring, especially early in the Cactus League schedule. The Cubs do not want to overwork the projected starting rotation this spring in order to prepare them for an extra month of games at the end of the regular season.
Joe Maddon said the Cubs “have this unique pitching staff” and that “you can’t go in any other camp and see this group of pitchers linked” like they have right now. There are different routes the Cubs can take according to Maddon if things do not work out as planned.
Theo Epstein told the beat writers the Cubs’ sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth starters might be in their bullpen on Opening Day.
News and Notes from Day One of Cubs Camp
• The Cubs will ‘Respect Bald’ again this spring according to Carrie Muskat.
• Gordon Wittenmyer reported that Joe Maddon thinks its overkill for players to show up so early to Spring Training. “I don’t want anybody to tell me Spring Training is too long. You just made it longer.”
• ESPN Chicago: Joe Maddon to Cubs, don’t complain about length of Spring Training
• Comcast SportsNet: Maddon on Cubs arriving early to Spring Training, “It’s overkill”
• Maddon said, according to Mark Gonzales, that he will “be more proactive in second Cubs Spring Training, believes influx of veterans will help avoid complacency and overconfidence.”
• Joe Maddon: “It’s all about processing the day properly. You can’t get complacent. We haven’t accomplished our goals yet.”
• Mark Gonzales snapped a photo of Travis Wood’s t-shirt … “It’s All About the Wood.”
• Jason Heyward told Mark Gonzales he is “impressed with the number of minor leaguers in camp. It says a lot about the organization and about how guys are hungry to be part of what we have.”
• Daily Herald: Cubs position players get early jump on Spring Training
• Chicago Tribune: Accountability is in session at Cubs’ camp
• Kyle Schwarber is embracing the challenge of working as a catcher and as an outfielder in Spring Training.
News and Notes
• Jeff Passan broke the story Friday that agent Bart Hernandez had been indicted on human-trafficking charges related to bringing Leonys Martin in from Cuba. Hernandez was arrested Friday morning after the indictment. Hernandez represents a number of current Cuban free agents. This is just the beginning … click here to read the full story.
• According to Marc Topkin, Commissioner Rob Manfred said that the between innings clock will be shortened this season and there will be “a focus on limiting the number and length of mound visits.”
• New Padres’ skipper Andy Green named his Opening Day starter … Tyson Ross will get the ball in the first game of the season for the Padres. James Shields and Andrew Cashner will follow Ross in the rotation.
• Juan Uribe agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Cleveland Indians, the deal is pending a physical according to Ken Rosenthal. Uribe received a $4 million base, plus incentives, according to Buster Olney.
• The Royals signed LHP Mike Minor to a two-year contract with a mutual option for a third year. Minor receives $2 million for 2016, $4 million for 2017 and the mutual option for 2018 is for $10 million with a $1.5 million buyout. Excellent low-risk signing for the Royals.
• The Rangers exercised the option on manager Jeff Banister’s contract for the 2018 season and added an option for 2019 according to Jeff Wilson.
• Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward found David Ross shopping at Dick’s Sporting Goods … click here for the photo, it’s pretty awesome.
• For those that like to interact with other Cubs fans on Facebook, check out Cubs Win, Cubs Win! The Facebook page is run by Phil Gialluisi, a longtime reader of Chicago Cubs Online, and all around good guy. His page is for Cubs fans who are looking to connect on Facebook with other great Cubs fans. Phil has created a Facebook destination where Cubs fans can share pictures, videos and much more. For Phil it’s all about connecting Cubs fans with other great Cubs fans … click here.
This Day in Cubstory
2009 – Cubs released Bill White
1988 – Spencer Patton, born
1986 – Julio Borbon, born
1985 – Ryan Sweeney, born
1957 – Jesus Figueroa, born
1963 – The Cubs officially ended ‘The College of Coaches’ and named Bob Kennedy as the team’s only manager for the upcoming season. The Cubs went 82-80 in 1963 after finishing with a 59-103 record in 1962, 42.5 games out of first place.
1943 – Cubs owner Philip ‘P.K.’ Wrigley and Branch Rickey drew up the charter for the All-American Girls Softball League which became the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL).
1920 – Frankie Gustine, born