MESA, AZ – If you’re looking for your fix of Cubs baseball on a beautiful Saturday morning in Chicago, look no further than ESPN. The media giant will broadcast their morning editions of SportsCenter live from Cubs camp at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona. The programming news was first reported by Jesse Rodgers, Cubs beat writer for ESPN Chicago.
Today is the Cubs first day of full-squad workouts at Sloan Park, and the remaining players yet to report are all scheduled to be in attendance for workouts this morning.
Maddon Speaks About Schwarber’s First Day of Catching
Kyle Schwarber got his first action behind the plate on Friday morning during Cubs workouts, catching a bullpen for veteran starting pitcher John Lackey, as well as working on blocking drills briefly on Friday morning. Schwarber jokingly exclaimed, “I made it” after getting up from the crouch when the bullpen session concluded.
After practice Cubs Manager Joe Maddon spoke about Schwarber working behind the plate early in camp, saying that the club was still going to be taking things slow with Schwarber who is donning a brace on his surgically repaired knee this spring. Maddon said that things went well on Friday, and that Schwarber felt fine. Maddon even went as far as saying that if all goes well, we can expect to see Schwarber catch up to 20 games during the 2017 regular season.
Lester Likes the Cubs Chances of Repeating
Cubs veteran Jon Lester, someone who is no stranger to postseason success, said that he believes that the Cubs are “naive enough” to repeat as World Series Champions in 2017, a feat last accomplished by the New York Yankees who won three in a row from 1998-2000.
Lester, a three-time World Series Champion now, had this to say about the prospect of repeating as World Series Champions in today’s day in age,
“What makes the Yankees so special is they were able to do it year in and year out,” Lester said Friday. “It’s just hard. Teams are better across the board. It’s a hard thing to win one, let alone do it two in a row. All we can do is play hard and do the little things like we do in Spring Training to get better and see what happens in the season.”
As far as what makes the Cubs different than the previous 15 World Series Champions that were unable to win back-to-back Championships,
“I think just youth,” Lester said. “Our big guys are so young. They’re naive to the situation and just go out and play. Older guys like me and [John Lackey] kind of go slow, and try to take it easy in Spring Training and just be ready to go come April. These guys are ready to go day one, as usual. I think that’s the biggest thing for us, and the biggest positive on our side is that we have so many young guys who aren’t banged up and don’t have as many innings or at-bats under their belt, and it makes it easier on them to rebound and come back and be ready to go.”
Lester and Contreras Continued to Work on Friday
Jon Lester and Willson Contreras continued to work to develop a rapport on Friday morning, for the second day in a row the two worked together. With Lester’s former personal catcher David Ross now retired, Lester will have to get used to throwing to the Cubs new everyday catcher, Willson Contreras.
Contreras said on Thursday afternoon that he thought that their first session together went well, and expressed his confidence in their eventual rapport as a battery, Lester echoed that same sentiment on Friday afternoon,
“Me and Rossy didn’t reinvent the wheel with anything special,” Lester said. “It’s a matter of having a game plan, and if it isn’t going well and you aren’t able to execute that, the ability to go to Plan B is where I feel like Rossy and I clicked. I saw Willy do that last year a lot with everybody else.
“I don’t think there will be any problems. He’s very talented and very willing to learn and eager to please. That’s the biggest thing — he wants to go out there and make you happy when he’s behind the plate.”
Maddon Sheds Some Light on the Ninth Inning Duties in 2017
Cubs skipper Joe Maddon gave us a little bit of insight into the Cubs closer situation on Friday, saying that Wade Davis, who will presumably be the primary closer, “can’t close every game” when he was asked about the role that Hector Rondon will play in the back-end of the Cubs bullpen.
Rondon, has lost the closer’s role in each of the last two seasons for the Cubs, but Maddon made it clear that Rondon is still seen as a valuable asset in the Cubs bullpen moving forward. It will be interesting to see how much time Rondon gets in the latter innings of ballgames this spring with Cubs young flame-thrower, Carl Edwards also in the mix for a late-innings role in the Cubs bullpen in 2017.
Stay with The Loop Sports all spring long as we bring you frequent Notes from Mesa, Cactus League game recaps and Analysis, and all of the deep analysis of the story-lines surrounding Spring Training 2017!