As the pre-season hype continues to build around the Cubs, Bob Nightengale talked to several of the players, Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein about the desire to be part of the team that ends the longest championship drought in the history of North American sports.
David Ross said it drives all of the players and that winning a World Series with the Cubs is “the holy grail of baseball.”
The front office has used the lure of being part of the team as a recruiting tool for free agents.
Nightengale explained, “The Cubs subtly remind prospective free agents of the historic impact of a World Series title. They send a 20-minute video, with testimonials from past and current players, telling them about the organization. It shows the beauty of living in downtown Chicago during the summer. Describes the family atmosphere for the players and their families. Shows pictures of their gorgeous new clubhouse facilities that will be ready for their home opener. It comes to a crescendo by showing their name on the Wrigley Field scoreboard, playing Game 7 of the World Series, and scenes from a championship parade once they win it.”
There are several players on the Cubs roster that have been part of ending droughts for other organizations. And being on The Team is the reason players like Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, John Lackey and Dexter Fowler turned down more money elsewhere to sign with the Cubs.
The Cubs are confident and know they have a good team on paper. But they also know it is baseball and there is a lot of work, and a bit of luck involved for a team to reach its ultimate goal.
Albert Almora Jr.
Albert Almora Jr. had to leave Wednesday’s practice with back spasms. Almora Jr. told the beat writers after practice “he felt fine after an injury scare during morning practice.” His back “knotted up” and he called it “a little minor back spasm.”
Almora Jr. had to be helped up according to the Tribune and left the field with a trainer. He said Wednesday that he could have gone out and played if it was a regular season game. The Cubs decided to hold him out of Wednesday’s Spring Training game.
Albert Almora Jr. is listed as day-to-day.
Rick Sutcliffe has not held back his thoughts about the players this spring. Sutcliffe has been in camp as a guest instructor since pitchers and catchers reported. Sutcliffe tweeted a few notable notes Wednesday …
• Sutcliffe has been a supporter of Kyle Hendricks from day one. Sutcliffe thought Hendricks’ performance Tuesday against the Dodgers was overlooked.
• Ian Happ was called up for the day for the first time. Happ played second base, was in the middle of a 5-4-3 double play and went 0-for-1 at the plate with a walk. Sutcliffe really liked what he saw … “OK, I’m all in on #1 draft pick Ian Happ!”
• Jake Arrieta and ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza apparently had one heck of a workout Wednesday morning prior to Arrieta making his spring debut.
• Rick Sutcliffe is not the only former player in uniform helping out this spring. Ryne Sandberg, Billy Williams, Randy Hundley, Jon Lieber, Ted Lilly and Kerry Wood either are currently or have been in camp this spring.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Jake Arrieta told the Tribune he would wait until Thursday to talk to Pierce Johnson about Wednesday’s outing. Arrieta is treating Johnson with kid gloves after taking an interest in the Cubs’ pitching prospect last spring.
• Comcast SportsNet is televising the Cubs’ Spring Training game on March 16 (versus the Royals) and it will be commercial free with behind-the-scenes on and off-the-field feature stories.
• Kyle Schwarber spent time with ESPN’s Jessica Mendoza on Wednesday for a future segment on the World Wide Leader.
• The Cubs will see Reds’ top pitching prospect RHP Robert Stephenson on Friday at Sloan Park. John Lackey is scheduled to make his Cubs debut against Joey Votto and company.
• According to Jim Salisbury, the Phillies could be interested in Matt Szczur if he does not make the Cubs’ roster out of Spring Training.
• Jason Heyward answered several questions from Twitter for ESPN Chicago … Addison Russell received quite the haul for No. 22.
• Ken Rosenthal penned a must read … the incredible comeback of Rich Hill.
• According to the Tribune, Joe Maddon challenged to continue Cubs’ camaraderie.
• Tom Ricketts is building a mansion on Lake Michigan in Wilmette with an estimated construction cost of $10.74 million according to the Tribune. Land and construction cost could total around $18 million when the project is completed.
• According to the Sun-Times, the City of Chicago may soon ban smokeless tobacco at Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field.
• Veteran utility man Skip Schumaker decided to call it a career. The Padres announced Wednesday that Schumaker retired from baseball.
• According to David O’Brien, the Braves will ask for a lot if the Cardinals call about shortstop Erick Aybar.
• Speaking of the Cardinals, Adam Wainwright’s team just can’t stop talking about the defending third place team in the NL Central. As Theo Epstein said Tuesday when he was asked about St. Louis, anyone overlooking the Cardinals is not paying attention.
And last, but not least, Jon Lester got in the jab of the day. According to Anthony Castrovince, Lester walked into the press box Wednesday at Sloan Park and said, “So this is where it happens, huh? This is where you guys tell us we suck.”
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Jorge Soler, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant hit back-to-back-to-back homers off Trevor Bauer in a Cactus League game.
1983 – Donnie Murphy, born
1947 – Darcy Fast, born
1944 – Joe Campbell, born
1939 – Bill Heath, born
1873 – Gene DeMontreville, born
1862 – Dad Lytle, born