Splashy Ferrari drives home a point in Cubs camp
MESA, Ariz. -- Another day, another wacky start to the Cubs' daily workout.
Once again, the star was Tim Buss, the team's strength and conditioning coordinator. He has dressed as a cowboy and bedazzled in bling this spring, but on Tuesday he made a grand entrance by driving a Ferrari onto the workout field.
"That was pretty good," said manager Joe Maddon, without whose blessing none of this happens. "We tried to do that on the first day (Saturday, when it rained). We had it even more planned out where I was going to go out there and start talking about humility and moving forward, and then he was going to drive out like that. That was really solid."
The sideshow aspect of camp comes with a purpose, says Maddon. One of the themes of the early camp for the world champions has been humility. Maddon and Buss have used irony -- shiny chains and fast cars -- to get that point across.
Maddon says he believes the players are getting it.
"I do, just because I think that's who they are," he said. "It's not contrived. You don't have to force it. That's who those fellows are."
Team leader and first baseman Anthony Rizzo agreed.
"It was just Bussy being Bussy and having a good time," Rizzo said. "With all the crazy things that us players did this off-season, him going to buy a Ferrari is even crazier."
But seriously, Buss is one of the more respected strength and conditioning coaches in the game. He has been with the Cubs since 2001 and has outlasted many managers and front-office people.
"He's a different cat," Maddon said. "He's a weapon. We have several guys like that who I don't think exist somewhere else because I don't know if there's another guy in any camp who can pull off what he does every day."
Buss and nonroster man Munenori Kawasaki capped the festivities.
"Kawasaki is the perfect foil," Maddon said. "He just started rambling in Japanese, and Bussy acted as though he understood everything he said and interpreted what he had said, and it was perfect. Kaw loves it, he's great with. This guy's entertaining but he's also a really good baseball player. The combination really fits us perfectly."
Kawasaki, 35, was in the Cubs organization last year, and he got into 14 games for the big club.
More kids on the way:
Joe Maddon walked the fields Tuesday, and he wanted to watch prospects Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ.
"I just try to engage in something different every day," he said. "I got down and just wanted to focus on outfield. I wanted to watch Eloy, and he really moved well. The fact that he attempted to do everything right, you're not always going to do everything right, but the attempt to do something right is really important.
"I wanted to see Ian Happ because the hitting coaches have been going on and on about him. In my own little world today, I got a lot done just conversationally."
Jimenez was their minor-league player of the year last season. Happ was their first-round draft pick in 2015.
"Everybody thinks all of our talent is already here (in the big leagues)," Maddon said. "Time out. There's other guys coming."
The watchful eye:
Relievers Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon threw "live" batting practice Tuesday. Both suffered injuries late last season, and Joe Maddon was paying particular attention to Strop and talking to others about him. About what?
"Can't tell you," he said. "It's stuff, watching him pitch and some philosophical stuff and wanting to know if these guys were thinking the same things that I was thinking, and actually, they were. So it was kind of reinforcement."