Special Chicago kids get a special day from the Cubs
MESA, Ariz. -- On most days, ballplayers hear the cheers from the kids.
But on Tuesday, Cubs players lined up to cheer some special children. The team hosted four kids from Advocate Children's Hospital, welcoming them onto the field for morning spring-training drills.
The players formed a receiving line and applauded the kids as they passed through.
The children are battling various forms of cancer and heart-health issues. At the end of the day, Cubs manager Joe Maddon signed each child to a one-day Cubs contract.
"Awesome," Maddon said. "It is. The lineup, you see their faces as they come through there. Come on. It's a really special moment. It's a special moment for them, and it's really special for us, also. Love when we do things like that. The message, the sound, the impact, is so much greater than we even know."
The four children attending as guests were Zachary Lum of Sleepy Hollow, Izabella Marin of Chicago, Kyle Munch of Montgomery and Jonathan Olmos of Des Plaines.
"It means everything," said Rosalie Ann Zirretta, Jonathan's mother. "He's been through a lot for the past three years. It's not going to stop anytime soon. And it's just so special that he gets to experience something special like this during a difficult time and kind of forget about it for a little while."
Jonathan, 16, has leukemia and will undergo a bone-marrow transplant "in a couple of months," said his mom. As far as a favorite player, Jonathan said it's Javier Baez.
"He's really fast," Jonathan said. "So acrobatic and looks cool. This is amazing. I get to make memories I can think about in the hospital. It will be hard having to deal with it, but having these memories to share will always brighten up the day whenever I feel down."
Zachary, 17, said it was a thrill to meet David Ross, catcher for the 2016 world-champion Cubs. Zachary said his favorite player is Ben Zobrist.
"He's the MVP of the World Series, considering that he hit that winning double which put us in front of the Indians," he said.
Zachary also relished the day: "It means a lot to me, considering I've been through so much throughout treatment. It's incredible to see that they actually do care about those who are less fortunate."
Go ahead and fine him:
Catcher Willson Contreras said he isn't worried about Major League Baseball limiting mound visits to six per game this year to cut down on the length of games. Visits by coaches, managers or players count. If a game goes to extra innings, teams will get an extra visit per inning.
Contreras has been known to wear a path to the mound, going out several times per inning during some games.
"You know what?" he said Tuesday. "I've been reading a lot about this rule. I don't really care. If you have to go again and pay the price for my team, I will. They say there is six mound visits. What about if you have a tight game or extra-inning game and you have to go out there? They cannot say anything. It's my team, and we just care about winning. If you're going to fine me about the No. 7 mound visit, I will pay the price."