Cubs Spring Training Notebook: Management’s message to Cubs players, recruiting Ohtani and a new reliever in tow
MESA, Ariz. — In many ways, Monday’s first full squad workouts felt more like just another day of work.
For a few weeks now, most of the roster has been at Sloan Park, preparing for the 2023 season and working out with the Cubs coaching staff.
But there were still formalities that took place Monday — like the team-wide meeting where owner Tom Ricketts and manager David Ross addressed everyone.
“My message is pretty consistent — just let’s always remember to be your best on and off the field and treat the fans like gold and use your time wisely cause Spring Training goes by so fast,” Ricketts told the team. “But ultimately it’s not about me, it’s about the coaches talking to the players.”
So, what did Ross tell his team?
“I think the message from me is there’s a lot of winners, a lot of guys with hardware in the room — we’ve got baseball players,” Ross said. “It’s about coming together as a group and supporting one another. It’s a long journey ahead of ups and downs and continuing to get better. That stuff doesn’t really change for me.”
The vibes around the Cubs facility were palpable — there was a strong contingent of fans hanging outside of Field 1 as the Cubs’ infielders took batting practice and had a live batting practice session. And the crowds were there at the backfields where Cubs outfielders took their batting practice and faced live pitching from Adrian Sampson and Brendon Little.
“It was a nice turnout from fans today. They must really dig the long ball, right? Isn’t that the saying? Cause they weren’t here for the pitching staff, what’s going on?” Ross said with a laugh.
Seiya Suzuki’s offseason
Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki is one of those players that’s been in camp prior to report date and arrived notably bulkier.
The Japanese outfielder added 20 pounds of muscle in the offseason.
“It was mechanically — just [improve] swing speed, first step,” Suzuki said through Toy Matsushita. “I think it’s all connected to power, so not just power, I feel like mechanically it’s all aspects.”
Suzuki will be partaking in the World Baseball Classic next month and will fly out to Japan ahead of the start of pool play. Heading into the offseason, it was no guarantee Suzuki would take part in the WBC, but he ultimately decided to play and will miss a portion of Spring Training. It’ll be his second consecutive truncated spring.
“It was actually one of my objectives to play at the WBC,” Suzuki said. “This year there’s a lot of good players that are gonna be in the tournament. I talked to the manager for Team Japan and he gave some really good words and it really motivated me to start a little early this spring and play for Japan.”
He’ll be playing alongside Angels’ megastar Shohei Ohtani, who is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the year. So, will there be any pitches for him to come to the North Side?
“[I’m] inviting him,” Suzuki said through Matsushita.
Fulmer deal becomes official
Speaking of formalities, the Cubs officially announced the signing of reliever Michael Fulmer to a one-year deal. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Cubs added Codi Heuer to the 60-day IL as he continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
The move had been reported over a week ago and Fulmer threw a bullpen for the Cubs on Sunday afternoon. The deal was held up due to some legal formalities, per sources, but he had passed his physical so he was able to pitch for the team.
Fulmer met in December with vice president of pitching Craig Breslow and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, where they suggested some things he could work on in the offseason, before they made a decision on signing him.
“That just goes a long way for me and my family, very genuine, very honest and I worked on those things right away,” Fulmer said. “When we got down to it, they talked their talk with the agents and stuff and it all worked out in the end. I told them after that zoom meeting that I wanted to be a Cub. I’m glad it worked out well for everybody and I’m just happy to be here.”
Quote of the Day
Last year, Suzuki admitted the cold weather of Chicago in April was tough to adjust to. So, how did he try to adjust to the sometimes-frigid temperatures?
“[I’m] gonna wear a Moncler down jacket in the at-bat during the season,” Suzuki said with a laugh.