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The first Chicago Cubs Spring Training game is just one week away. Swoon. Oh, but not the June kind.

  • Aramis Ramirez, who arrived in camp yesterday (a day after the official reporting date), says he’s healthy and stronger this year, having added about seven pounds of muscle. It’s a virtual contract year for Ramirez (the Cubs hold a big money option for 2012), so here’s hoping he bounces back – his success is crucial to the Cubs’ 2011 chances.
  • Kosuke Fukudome, the favorite to leadoff against right-handers (which necessarily implies he’s also a favorite to get regular starts in the crowded Cubs outfield), isĀ setting his mind to becoming an everyday player, but is ready to adjust to a part-time role if necessary. The simple fact is, he needs to be in the lineup against right-handers, whether he’s leading off or not.
  • Speaking of the crowded outfield, Mike Quade isn’t ready to discuss his plans for reaching the right balance where he’s got three positions for four players. Free advice, Mike? Make this your starting point: against left-handers, both Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd must be in the lineup; butĀ against right-handers, Fukudome and Tyler Colvin must both be in the lineup – set egos aside.
  • One thing Quade is ready to discuss? Telling his players to make sure they speak with the media – and do so respectfully (including looking them in the eyes, which doubles as solid date advice). Do dedicated bloggers count as “the media,” Mike? If so, hit up my cell.
  • The Cubs are hoping their new facilities in Mesa will be completed in time for Spring Training 2014, so, like, look forward to that. The Riverview Park area complex will be 50,000 square feet and will include a new 15,000 capacity stadium.

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