Chicago Cubs pitchers and hitters finally spring into action
MESA, Ariz. -- Finally.
After two days of rain and chilly weather, the Chicago Cubs were able to hold their first full-squad workout Monday. "Even leaving this morning from the RV, it was nice," said manager Joe Maddon. "It was warmer than I thought. It was good. We got our work in. Didn't get everything in that we'd like to on the field, but plenty of hitting in the cages. The pitchers got to throw, and that's the important thing."
The main event was "live" batting practice, with pitchers such as Jon Lester and John Lackey throwing to Cubs hitters. The pitchers weren't throwing full force, and the hitters knew what was coming, but it got everybody outdoors.
During parts of the batting practice, coaches yelled out situations -- such as man on second and nobody out -- so that hitters could practice advancing the runner. Lester threw to second-year catcher Willson Contreras, who is expected to take over for retired David Ross as Lester's catcher. After Monday's session, pitching coach Chris Bosio and catching coach Mike Borzello went over things with Contreras.
"Our pitchers looked good out there," said infielder-outfielder Ben Zobrist. "They're all just trying to get loose. They're throwing 10 miles (per hour) slower than they normally do. But yeah, it was a good day. It was fun."
The Cubs also had fun with the morning stretch. Tim Buss, the team's strength and conditioning coordinator, dressed up in a top hat and bling -- a whole bunch of neck chains -- while carrying a walking stick around.
The garish get-up, Maddon said, was to preach the importance of humility to the defending world champions.
"I give the guy credit," Maddon said of Buss. "On a daily basis, he's able to pull something off that makes the guys laugh, and it's a great way to start the day."
Zobrist was asked what to call Buss's attire.
"You call it bling and show," he said. "It was a show outfit. He brings it every day for us. Busy is the epitome of a pro strength and conditioning guy."
This could be fun:
Recently acquired lefty Brett Anderson sounds like he could be a quotable guy. He threw a bullpen session in cool weather early Monday morning and returned the clubhouse lathered up.
"I can sweat in a snowstorm," he said.
On his personality, he likened himself to laconic pitcher Jon Lester, with one difference.
"I'm more like Lester except for my social media," he said, explaining he's very sarcastic on Twitter. "I kind of sit back and observe. I'm not a huge talker in person, but I can kind of show some of my personality and candor on some of those things.
"You look at stuff and you get to a new team and say, 'Oh, man, did I say anything about anybody that's going to (tick) them off and whatnot?' The only thing I said about the players is that Kyle (young pitcher Hendricks) looks like he could have some Oreos and milk after pitching in the World Series. That's kind of the guy he is. Just the calmness and stuff he shows is something we can all try to strive for."
It's rally time:
The Cubs and the city of Mesa will host a championship rally on Friday from noon to 4 p.m. MST at Sloan Park, a day before the Cubs kick off the Cactus League season. During the rally, fans will hear from Mesa Mayor John Giles, Joe Maddon and several Cubs manager players and have the opportunity to take photos with the 2016 World Series trophy. Gates will open at 10 a.m. with live music, food and beverages starting at 11.