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Cubs understand the importance of getting out to a hot start

1 month agoTony Andracki

In the current state of Major League Baseball, many traditional proverbs are being thrown out the window.

It’s now a sprint not a marathon.

And the saying, “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” doesn’t carry the same weight. Now, there is an extra emphasis on which team comes out of the gate hot, as former Cubs outfielder Ryan Sweeney pointed out recently.

The Cubs have been preaching a sense of urgency and getting out to a good start to the 2020 season since long before the shutdown. Theo Epstein’s front office, David Ross’ coaching staff and the entire clubhouse understand the importance of beginning the year on the right foot.

That’s especially true now that it’s only a 60-game season and not a six-month affair.

“I think it’s gonna be really important [to get out to a hot start] this year,” Jed Hoyer said. “Obviously you got a short season, so it makes it that much more important. But even beyond that, it’s gonna be unusual. When you look at all the different regulations and restrictions and things like that, I think the more guys can be having fun and enjoying coming to the ballpark every day, the better.

“Obviously we all know winning makes a lot of things that may be inconveniences kinda go away. I do think getting off to a good start is gonna be important for us mentally, just as it’s important because we’re only playing 60 games. A fast start is important.”

Hoyer also said that while a 60-game season is not the marathon event MLB personnel are used to, it’s still more than two months of action and roughly equivalent to the time after the trade deadline in normal seasons.

Even over 60 games, Hoyer and the Cubs know there are going to be ebbs and flows — that it will still be a roller coaster…just a shorter ride than usual.

“You can’t treat it like a dead sprint,” Hoyer said. “You’re gonna have to have some patience. Every game is very important, but at the same time, we’re still playing for two months and there’s gonna be some ups and downs, even within a two-month season.”

That includes rest. Hoyer and Ross acknowledged the Cubs can’t simply ask players to slam the gas pedal down on a 60-game campaign after more than three months off with only three weeks to ramp up for the season. That’s how injuries can pile up.

As they try to get everything settled in for this three-week summer camp, the Cubs are chomping at the bit to get back on the field and get out to a hot start to the regular season.

And they still have only one mission, regardless of the length of the schedule:

“If they’re passing out a trophy, I want it,” Ross said. “If they’re handing out rings and we’re all starting from the same point — I don’t care if it’s a 5-game season. This is competition and it’s what we enjoy doing. It’s why we suit up.

“There’s a lot of benefits to being a Major League Baseball player, but if you talk to these players, they couldn’t wait to get started. These guys were raring to go and couldn’t wait to get back — be around one another, get in this environment that we love. A lot of the guys missed the city with all its been going through. We’re excited to be back.

“Everybody else can put something on it, but if we win the whole thing, I still get a ring and a trophy and I don’t know what the parade will look like, but we’ll adjust that when we get there.”

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