Cubs' faces 'lit up' in new clubhouse
Cubs president Theo Epstein looked the part of the proud papa as he welcomed the Chicago Cubs and the media into the spacious new home clubhouse at Wrigley Field Monday.
Actually, the Cubs got a first look at their new digs Sunday night after arriving in town from their road trip to Anaheim and Arizona.
The new locker room is the second-largest home clubhouse (the Yankees' is larger) in Major League Baseball, and it looks especially huge in contrast to the cramped quarters the Cubs occupied for many years.
"It was a lot of fun, to see the looks on their faces when they came in," Epstein said before Monday night's home opener. "Their faces lit up when they opened the doors and saw their new home.
"It's a special place. I'e seen a lot of clubhouses. This is by far the nicest one I've ever seen."
For players such as Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and John Lackey, who joined the Cubs for the first time in the off-season, this is all they'll know as a home Cubs clubhouse. But for players such as first baseman Anthony Rizzo, a young veteran, it's a huge upgrade.
"It is really nice," Rizzo said. "It's going to be nice in the dog days, too. You can come in here and just relax."
The Cubs did get some initial walk-throughs during the January fan convention, when the clubhouse was still quite unfinished. But that, along with the artist's renderings, prevented a total shock to the system.
"To see it live, we've seen all the demos and everything, but to see it live, it blew all our expectations away," Rizzo said.
In addition to the locker space, the new clubhouse, which is underground, features all new medical and training facilities. The old clubhouse now serves as a batting cage.
There's also a little "party room" to celebrate what the Cubs hope will be many victories.
"I think the clubhouse fits our identity as an organization and as a club pretty well. We believe in youth, young players. The clubhouse has kind of a young, energetic, fun feel to it. It also has everything you could ever need to improve yourself."
The media will get a full tour on Tuesday.
The clubhouse is part of the multiyear renovation of 102-year-old Wrigley Field. Epstein gave a nod toward team chairman Tom Ricketts.
"Tom did make the clubhouse a priority," Epstein said.
Cubs trade for a pitcher:
The Cubs acquired left-handed pitcher Giovanni Soto from the Cleveland Indians on Monday and optioned him to Class AAA Iowa.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Soto, the team transferred catcher-outfielder Kyle Schwarber from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. Schwarber is awaiting surgery and rehab to repair torn knee ligaments.
Schwarber was the last Cub to be introduced during pregame ceremonies. He came out of the dugout using one crutch.
His injury is the first piece of adversity the Cubs must deal with this season.
"Overcoming adversity is really all about character, looking at it the right way instead of sulking and getting down and thinking about what you don't have, seeing it as an opportunity to overcome something, an opportunity for someone else to step up," Theo Epstein said. "Injuries are not a variable in this game. They're a constant.
"You don't know who. You don't know how long. You don't know what type of injury. But you know you're going to have injuries. So if you don't prepare for them, shame on you. We hate to lose Kyle. We're hurting for Kyle. It changes who we are a little bit because he's unique. But we're built to withstand some injuries.
Status quo on Theo:
There was no opening-day surprise announcement that Theo Epstein had signed a contract extension. Epstein is in the final season of his original five-year contract.
Last week in Anaheim, both he and Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said talks were progressing fine.
"We haven't talked a lot about it," Epstein said Monday. "The few talks that we've had have been very amicable, productive. It's moving in the right direction. When things stabilize, when we get through this injury situation and we get into a bit of the season, I'm sure we'll pick up talks and get something done. But it's not really a concern."