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Cubs believe in the power of the reset button

1 week agoTony Andracki

MESA, Ariz. – Every team comes to spring training filled with hope and optimism. It’s a hallmark of pitchers and catchers reporting and full-squad workouts in the Arizona and Florida sunshine.

Everybody is starting with a fresh slate and there’s an inherent belief that this is their “year.” Nobody comes into camp thinking they’re going to have a season full of struggle and despair.

But the Cubs came to Arizona feeling as optimistic as any team that they can rewrite the narrative from last season.

The core members of the offense – Anthony Rizzo, Javy Báez and Kris Bryant – all posted numbers that were below their career norm in the shortened 2020 season and for the Cubs to find success in 2021, they’ll need those guys to regain their past form. 

They’re banking on the power of the reset button.

“I think every season is a reset, to be honest with you,” David Ross said. “Every year is different and unique in the sense of performance and that’s why it’s so hard to find those great players that are consistent throughout their careers. 

“Especially after such a unique season that was last year, I think a lot of guys are looking forward to hitting that reset button and going out and proving who they are to everybody.”

Throughout last year, the Cubs spoke often about how a 60-game schedule brought a lot more pressure to perform immediately instead of the typical marathon-esque season. Suddenly a six-month journey was condensed into a two-month sprint and the Cubs players felt it.

In 2020, Anthony Rizzo posted an OPS more than 100 points below his career mark and he admitted the strange season was tough to get his head around mentally.

“You look at a lot of players on this team and in August, you’re used to having 20-plus homers,” he said. “Then you look up and you have 4. … It still felt like August. It still felt like September. It didn’t feel like it was April and May. 

“It’s just different and we’re such creatures of habit. So that was definitely a variable I personally take into when I look at all the numbers – the good ones and the bad ones – just making sure when you put it all together. It’s not an excuse, but there’s a reason why it happened and you gotta make sure that you’re getting ahead of that so you’re not falling behind.”

The Cubs have their sights set on getting back to the playoffs once again in 2021 and the path to the postseason will hinge on this lineup’s ability to score runs on a consistent basis. 

Ross wants the team to make some minor offensive tweaks going into the season, but the biggest step forward this lineup can take is if the All-Stars and MVP candidates return to form and prove last year was an aberration.

“It’s always just constant adjustments,” Rizzo said. “This league has adjusted to the hitters at a crazy pace and it’s up to us hitters to keep adjusting back. It’s the constant cat-and-mouse game.”

With a combined eight All-Star appearances and six Top-10 finishes in NL MVP voting, the Cubs’ core trio has already displayed the ability to make those adjustments in the past. 

Coming off a full offseason to reset mentally and physically, the Cubs are once again putting their faith in Rizzo, Bryant and Báez.

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