Keeping Up with the Cubs

From Flickr Public Domain

Gianna Kolner, Crown Staff

World Series Champs trade the skyscrapers of Chicago for the desert hills of Mesa, AZ, leaving their windy city lives behind for three months of training in the sun. Sloan Park is home to the Cubs during spring training. This allotted time gives coaches and fans an opportunity to see the progress that veteran players, rookies, and top prospects have put in over the off-season.

Anthony Rizzo (1B) stated,“The main focus of spring training is learning how to play baseball again, becoming a team again, getting the work in, and then when the season begins, getting off to a good start.” However, coming into spring training as champs doesn’t mean the team can get complacent.

“Embrace the target” and “try not to suck” were Manager Joe Maddon’s mottos for last season. These sayings were seen on t-shirts, posters, and all over Wrigleyville.

This season, Maddon’s motto is “be uncomfortable”. Maddon picked this motto because he said “in life it’s good for people to be uncomfortable, it gives them drive. It’s really important to be uncomfortable. If you become a comfortable person, I think that subtracts growth from the equation. I think if you remain somewhat uncomfortable, you’ll continue to grow.”  Maddon uses these mottos to remind and keep each of his players in a good state of mind. Maddon’s managing style is a major part of the Cubs’s success.

Ian Happ, the Cubs No. 2 prospect and first round draft pick, has shined recently during his debut at spring training. He is an outfielder, second baseman, switch hitter and utility player who has worked his way up through the Cubs’s system at a fast pace. Happ said “I’m feeling really good at the plate. Just trying to enjoy my time and learn as much as I can.” Maddon called Happ a “believes-he-belongs here kind of a guy. I get that from him. He’s definitely a major league player in waiting, and his time will come.”

While Happ won’t make his debut opening day this year at Wrigley, eventually the call will come because of how much he impressed critics in Arizona. He is currently batting .400 and over his past four games, he’s 9-for-11. He has had quality at bats, is able to control the strike zone, and lays off difficult pitches. Happ has appeared in 15 spring training games, and has fourteen hits, three home runs and nine RBI’s.

Opening day is fastly approaching and Cubs fans have high hopes for a repeat of last year. Anything is possible, even the Cubs in 1908 had won back to back World Series Championships. The Cubs got very lucky this year- only losing a few of their roster players, while keeping the heart of the team. The Cubs did have to part ways with fan-favorite outfielder Dexter Fowler. The famous Grandpa Rossy also retired last season, and everyone was sad to see him leave, as his presence in the Cubs Clubhouse will be greatly missed. April 10 cannot come fast enough for Cubs fans everywhere as they anticipate raising the trophy again.