Many of us have wondered how Cubs camp would be run differently this year. Based on a Shawon Dunston Tweet from yesterday, the answer is starting to take shape. But to properly frame his comment, I should explain what a normal Spring Training resembles.
Major league Baseball starts at varying times. From back in the seventies, it seemed like the opener was usually around April 6th. Sometimes, Day one of the season has crept back as far as late-March. On rare occasion, the game is in a foreign country, requiring travel. Each of these push the start of spring training earlier. But the expectation is, it takes 6 weeks to get ready for a big league season. This season, with Opening Day on April Fifth, the major league camp opens on February 20th. That sounds normal.
Major league camp entails, obviously, the guys on the 25 man roster. Also, all the members of the 40 Man Roster are there. Usually, about 20 Non-Roster Invitees come along for the ride as well. These are a combination of team prospects (Brett Jackson and Trey McNutt, for instance), spare arms to take up some innings, a system catcher or three, as catchers are very valued early in camp, and maybe a spare utility guy. Usually, camp starts with about 65 guys, maybe a bit under. Many upper-end instructors/coaches assist in getting the players ready.
For the rest of the organization, minor league camp comes markedly later. Usually, in this set of circumstances, the minor leaguers would arrive around March first. They have a season to get ready for, but there isn't the need to extend the pitchers out in March. While Dempster and Garza need to be ready to go six innings early, there are no huge problems if Austin Kirk can only go five innings in his first start for Daytona. The players have to be ready, but the expectation was 'around March first' would be traditional.
I'm not linking to it, but someone asked Shawon Dunston, Jr. yesterday when his reporting day was. Until a week ago, his answer had been 'Don't know." As of Thursday, it was 'Minicamp on February the 23rd'. So, at least some of the Minor Leaguers will be attending a MiniCamp for a week before the minor league pre-season starts. Obviously, I don't know, but I imagine some of that will be classroom study of the importance of swinging less at bad pitches. I've been off the grid for a week. I think this is the biggest news since last Thursday.
Even bigger than signing RoLo.