Spring Notebook: Cubs return to baseball in Arizona
MESA, Ariz. — David Ross was in a Phoenix-area mall on Thursday afternoon, pulling down on his Twitter feed on his phone to refresh and try and get any news.
“I think I’m really tired of scrolling through Twitter and refreshing like everybody else,” Ross said with a smile.
Dress shopping with his daughter, Ross was hoping to see some good news: the return of baseball.
Meanwhile, lefty starter Justin Steele had cast his vote on the Collective Bargaining Agreement and awaited the results. The voting amongst the Cubs was being orchestrated by their player representative, Ian Happ, who had help from reliever Scott Effross throughout the negotiating process.
“We were able to kinda just have a constant dialogue with the guys through a couple of group texts,” Happ said. “That was the main thing — communication throughout the whole process.”
That communication led to a vote that resulted in the return of baseball — and excitement for everyone involved.
“We got the vote and I proceeded to do my happy dance,” Steele said with a smile. “Me and my girlfriend both did our happy dance in the apartment.”
What does Steele’s happy dance look like?
“Can’t be getting injured out here,” he said with a smile.
Regardless, that excitement didn’t wane quickly for Steele. The lefty said he woke up around 5 a.m. Friday, ready to head to Sloan Park and get to work. He was one of the first Cubs to arrive at the complex around 8:30 a.m.
“I’m excited to see everybody, some new faces, old faces and then some old friends,” Steele said. “I’m excited to be around the team again.”
Learning process for Happ
As a first-time rep for the Players Association during a Collective Bargaining Agreement, it was a unique experience for Happ.
“You never know what it’s gonna be like until you’re in the room having those discussions,” Happ said. “Obviously leaned on some of the guys who have been through it before, the PA staff. It was quite a learning experience to definitely go through the process.”
So his reaction to the return of baseball was a little different than Steele’s.
“Take a deep breath for the first time in 6 months,” Happ said. “It was a lot of time and effort and from player reps, all of the PA staff, the executive subcommittee there was a lot of work put into this and now I think all those guys deserve some time to take a deep breath and then get back into what we actually do for a living.”
Cubs start trickling in
There was a large contingent of Cubs who arrived on Friday, ahead of Sunday’s mandatory report date. Kyle Hendricks, Greg Diechmann, Nick Madrigal, Nico Hoerner, Brad Wieck, Miguel Amaya, Manuel Rodríguez, Yan Gomes, Alfonso Rivas, Steele and Happ were some of the 40-man players who were at Sloan Park Friday.
The star of the show, though, was new Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman, who arrived at Sloan Park in his Bentley at approximately 9:30 a.m.
Hendricks threw a bullpen session while Diechmann, Madrigal, Hoerner and Rivas took some batting practice. Ross — who signed an extension with the Cubs Friday — and his son, Cole, shagged fly balls for the quartet, who took some fielding drills after they were done hitting.
Heuer done for season
Cubs reliever Codi Heuer, who the team acquired in the Craig Kimbrel deal, posted Tuesday on his Instagram account that he had surgery, which was later confirmed to be Tommy John surgery and he will miss the 2022 season.
“We’re gonna miss him greatly,” Ross said. “You know, better to find out now than didn’t midway through the season, right, they can maybe backfill some spots or other guys get opportunities here to prove themselves. We’ll still fill that thing out.”