Back with Cubs, Coghlan feels part of the family

How much is outfielder Chris Coghlan digging the new Cubs clubhouse digs?

"I went to the field about a half-hour earlier than I normally do, and my wife was like, 'The field's so nice, you don't want to stay home anymore, do you?'" he said Sunday. "And I laughed. But it is. It's inviting. It has everything you need."

Coghlan has a good sense of perspective. He was with the Cubs in 2014 and 2015 as they transitioned from a losing team to a big-time winning team. But the Cubs traded him to Oakland this past February, as they were re-signing Dexter Fowler to play center field. Coghlan came back June 9 in a trade that sent minor league infielder Arismendy Alcantara to Oakland.

During his first two years with the Cubs, Coghlan dressed with his teammates in the old, small clubhouse. Just when it looked like he was going to miss out on the spacious new surroundings, he's back.

How does the new compare with the old?

"Oh, it blows it away," he said. "I tell guys all the time I'd take the old clubhouse, it's so much fun around here. But this facility is top of the line. It's so unique. It recruits itself when everybody hears about it and everybody wants to know about it. It's pretty cool."

Coghlan also moved up in the standings, from last-place Oakland to first-place Chicago.

"With all due respect to Oakland, I was grateful," he said. "I felt bad that I didn't perform as well, the way they wanted me to. So you always feel for that because they made a trade for you.

"I feel grateful to be back here. I love the guys. You know what it's like here. We built a lot of cool chemistry last year. When you come back, there's a lot of love. It feels like you're part of a family versus, 'Hey, good to have you.' It's hugs, and everybody's excited. And I was excited. Then to go from a last-place team to a first-place team, you can't draw it up any better than that."

The kid to get a start:

Manager Joe Maddon said rookie catcher Willson Contreras will get his first major-league start in Monday night's series opener against the Cardinals. Veteran John Lackey will pitch for the Cubs.

"John's pretty much predetermined, where a catcher can follow his lead," Maddon said. "I think John is almost a perfect first guy for Contreras to catch."

Forever young at heart:

Catcher David Ross is developing quite a bond with the Wrigley Field fans. After hitting a decisive home run Saturday night, Ross received his second curtain call of the season.

He also received big cheers his next time up, and it affected him.

"It's really cool," he said. "I was telling these guys (teammates). They were asking me if it was cool to have the whole crowd singing 'Forever Young' in my last at-bat and cheering. I told them I took the first pitch because I wasn't concentrating. I was still in the crowd.

"When you get that feeling in this game, you have to take it in. The fans are great, and the highs and lows of sometimes they love you, sometimes they hate you. When they love you, boy, you have to take advantage of that and soak that in. I took a cutter right down the middle. I didn't care because it was a good feeling."

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