After an off season full of excitement, and building, the 2012 Cubs baseball season is kicking off today in Mesa Arizona. Pitchers and catchers are due to report today, and many have showed up early. On Friday, Kerry Wood and Rodrigo Lopez each threw off the mound, hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo worked with some players in the cages, and Darwin Barney, Bryan LaHair and Josh Vitters were among those practicing on the half field. The most telling quotes coming out of Mesa might have been from Marlon Byrd via (Carrie Muskat)
“Everyone’s counting us out so I’m sure they’ll have us down with
the Astros, Pirates, whoever,” Byrd said Saturday. “That’s fine with us.”
“We got a lot of guys who can throw it,” Byrd said. “With [Travis] Wood and [Chris] Volstad, those guys, you have guys you’ve faced and you’ve seen the talent they have and you’ve seen what they can do. You hope the change of scenery really helps them big time. At the same time, we have competition. We have a lot of guys here — Andy Sonnanstine, Rodrigo Lopez — to push guys. It’ll be fun and nice to watch those guys compete and develop at the same time.”
Reed Johnson is excited as well, and offers some thoughts on why he came back to the Cubs. It had a lot to do with new head coach Dale Sveum.
“I think that’s a big reason why I came back as well,” Johnson said. “You see Dale and the way he approaches things and you can
tell he means that. A lot of coaches and a lot of staff members can say that but you can tell it’s not genuine or they’re not going to follow through. [Sveum] doesn’t care if you’re making $15 million or $450,000. You’re going to go out there and play the game hard and if not, you’re not going to play. For players like me, that’s really refreshing because a lot of times, especially throughout the league and throughout my experiences, that hasn’t been true. If you come in with that attitude, you’re going to be in for a rude awakening with this staff.”
Reed Johnson on the Cubs pitching now.
“From top to bottom, we’ve got solid guys,” he said. “I feel in 2008, every time we ran out a starter, we had a chance to win that game. I feel when you look at the starting staff we have now, you feel you have a chance to win that night. I think that’s key mentally for this team as well.”
I know it’s early, but it’s nice to hear players talk about the excitement that is building around the new look Cubs. Players seem to be reinvigorated by all the talk (and actions) from Epstein, and Co. about the change in culture and attitude from the top of the organization to the bottom. Stay tuned to the blog for copious amounts of post’s from Spring Training, everyone is just getting started but we should have a lot of great content coming in the next few days. PLAY BALL!
Thanks for reading
– George Cotugno