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It hasn’t taken long for the 2021 Cubs to come together as a group

2 weeks agoTony Andracki

MESA, Ariz. — Spring training is officially only three days old, but this 2021 Cubs team is already starting to gel.

Friday morning, veterans Jake Arrieta and Craig Kimbrel were part of the first group of Cubs pitchers to throw.

But when their time on the mound was done, they didn’t pack up and head right to the locker room and then out to a golf course to enjoy the Arizona sun. Both pitchers stayed around and watched the next group of arms throw their bullpen.

Kimbrel stood by and watched as younger relievers Manny Rodríguez and Brad Wieck got their work in while Arrieta picked up on the previous day’s tutorial with one of the Cubs’ top pitching prospects, Adbert Alzolay.

Arrieta stood by and watched Alzolay throw 20 or so pitches, chatting with Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy or chiming in to Alzolay along the way.

“What veterans do that?” David Ross said. “We had some of that last year. That talks to the connection of what these guys have, how they’re interacting, what kind of people we have, really, that the stars and guys with real hardware are helping out young and upcoming pitchers.

“That’s the kind of teammate Jake was when I was here. That hasn’t changed; he’s still that same guy. I think there’s a willingness from him to want to impact guys and teach and really pass along a lot of experience. I tell guys all the time: I think it’s part of their duty as veterans. When I was outside of the game for a little bit, players talk about how other players impacted their career, not about their stats.

“I think guys realize that and guys like Jake and Kyle [Hendricks] and a lot of these veteran guys we have that are here that have been on other teams or coming back like Jake is are really impacting us as an organization, as a group.”

The Cubs have yet to hold a full-squad workout, but Ross is already ecstatic with the way the team is coming together.

There has been a lot of turnover on the pitching staff over the winter. If the Cubs are going to be successful in 2021, they’re going to need players to get acclimated to a new environment quickly and for younger players like Alzolay to earn an opportunity and run with it.

“There’s a lot of great conversations going on between veterans and young players, a lot of great questions,” Ross said. “[It] seems like a very connected group between this pitching core right now. Really early on, that is very refreshing and encouraging about how they’re communicating and helping each other out. It’s pretty impressive.”

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