The Wife is out for a conference all day today, which means it’s me and the kiddos. It’s also really nice outside for a February Saturday, so we’re going to be spending time doing stuff together.
There’s a ton to get to today, though, so I’m going to try and power through it with some rapid pace so you’re still getting your fix. Things might just be a little more brief than usual.
- Joe Maddon said yesterday that his theme for his players this year will be “Embrace the Target” (Cubs.com, ESPN), which was something he mentioned late last year. You can’t change the fact that external observers (and other teams, probably) are noting how good the Cubs look, so you have to get comfortable with the idea that the target has grown. That’s the gist of Maddon’s idea, and I think it’s just about the only way for the Cubs to proceed when seemingly everyone who checks them out concludes that they look like a juggernaut. It can be easy to crumble under that kind of spotlight, but thankfully Maddon – the best manager in the game – is the right guy to be leading a group under those circumstances.
- Given that Maddon is not a fan of extra batting practice during the season, you should be unsurprised to learn that he’s also not a fan of guys showing up super early for Spring Training, even if he appreciates the enthusiasm (Tribune, ESPN). Maddon feels like Spring Training is plenty long enough as it is, and his focus is to make sure no one gets hurt. That’s understandable, though I can also understand wanting to arrive early – you’re working out anyway getting ready to gear up for Spring Training, and it might be easier (and more fun) to do that away from home, with teammates.
- You can read so much more from yesterday’s introductory press conference here at ESPN, though I’ll be getting into a lot of the topics therein separately.
- Carrie Muskat says the Cubs do plan to do Respect Bald again this year, so the players and staff better be ready to get their clippers. Here’s a look back at last year’s event, which saw tons of players and coaches shave their heads for a good cause.
- Muskat also interviewed returning Cubs fan favorite Matt Murton, who is in camp on a minor league deal after several very successful years in Japan. It’s hard to see Murton winning a spot on the big league team out of Spring Training, but you never quite know. If the bat is still there, and if there are injuries, it’s good to have him around.
- In rumor stuff, Jon Heyman mentions that the Indians may be looking at Austin Jackson, as are the White Sox, who want to make an addition in the outfield. With no deal yet done between Dexter Fowler and the Orioles, I wonder if the White Sox are going to get involved.
- Madison Bumgarner is something of a cowboy, which means he brought his horses with him to Spring Training. Why not, right?
- Elsewhere in the world of stray baseball fun: a Royals outfielder got a tattoo of himself, and Colby Rasmus gets angry when he eats gummy bears or something.
- If you missed it in the flurry of stuff yesterday, the Cubs signed another pitcher – Aaron Crow.
- Sad news for long-time fans, as Tony Phillips passed away at age 56. The super utility man was a sneakily excellent player, who would have been right at home in today’s game of increasing importance placed on contact, on-base ability, and extreme defensive versatility.
- Cool bear-face Cubs spring jacket on sale at Amazon right now.