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Cubs Spring Training Notebook: A return and a reunion

2 years agoAndy Martinez

MESA, Ariz. — For about a month and half now, Nick Madrigal has been training and working out and has to remind himself which hamstring he tore just under a year ago. 

“It’s been a couple months since I’ve felt nervous about my leg at all,” the Cubs second baseman said. “It’s feeling great at this point.” 

Acquired at last year’s deadline from the White Sox for Craig Kimbrel, Madrigal has an opportunity to be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter at second base. Known for his contact-first bat, Madrigal has been a full participant in baseball activities for roughly a month and a half. 

“It’s taken a lot of time to do the small exercises, a lot of down time on the couch when I couldn’t move hardly,” Madrigal said. “It feels really good to be at this point.” 

Prior to the lockout, Madrigal was in the Mesa area and was going to the Cubs complex every day to rehab. Once the lockout hit, he had to rush to find a new place to rehab, to workout and to get in some baseball activities. 

He found Helix in Scottsdale, where he was able to rehab and work himself back into game shape. 

“I mean they took really good care of me and I’m feeling great at this point,” Madrigal said. 

When he finally was cleared, he reached out to Nico Hoerner to start working out together. The pair were working out at the baseball field at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix. Madrigal and Hoerner — who grew up playing together and against each other in California — built on their chemistry during the lockout. 

“We have that connection off the field, but it’s gonna be fun to get on the field and show people what we can do together,” Madrigal said. 

Jesse Chavez returns to Cubs

The Cubs added veteran righty Jesse Chavez on Sunday, inking him to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league camp. 

Chavez, who was with the Cubs in 2018, was stretching and chatting with new Cub Marcus Stroman on the agility field and played catch with the rest of the pitchers and catchers in camp. 

“It’s been good,” Chavez said. “It’s been quick, easy, like I didn’t leave.”

Chavez’ first stint with the Cubs was successful. He pitched to a 1.15 ERA after the Cubs acquired him midseason from the Rangers. He had a 0.795 WHIP in 32 games. 

Now he’ll battle for a spot in the Cubs bullpen and will help some of the younger arms, who could benefit from a veteran’s insight, much like the Cubs had in the second half of last season with Adam Morgan and Rex Brothers. 

“Treat everyone as an individual and you’ll go from there,” Chavez said. “That’s all I’m gonna try and do and take what I’ve learned throughout the years and try to help these young guys where they can have a long successful career.”

Contreras celebrates brother

Whenever he can support family, Willson Contreras is going to do so. 

No matter what it costs. 

During the World Series last year, Contreras was seen wearing a Braves jersey with “Contreras” emblazoned on the back for his younger brother, William, who is with Atlanta. 

“I did it because he’s my family. He’s my brother and that’s my blood,” Willson Contreras said. “Anything that I have to do for my family to support them, I’ll do it.”

And he’d do it over again, no matter what anyone says. 

“I know that probably there’s some criticism out there because I wore it, but I’m proud, I’m good,” Willson Contreras said. 

Cactus League action

The Cubs and White Sox will play 7-inning split squad contests Thursday, March 17 to kick off Spring Training game action. Both games will start at 1:05 MT, with one game at Sloan Park and one at the White Sox complex at Camelback Ranch.

For complete Spring Training schedule information and Cactus League tickets, head to SloanPark.com.

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