MESA, Arizona -- Now tell me you haven't been waiting for that dateline.
We're 13 days away from the Cubs taking the field in split-squad spring-training games against the Athletics and Giants, and Friday, Cubs pitchers took to the field for drills in front of a couple hundred or so fans who came to watch. Unlike recent days in the Valley, it was somewhat overcast and a little coolish, only in the 60s. (Yes, I know, compared to the Midwest, 60s sounds tropical.)
Players were friendly and accessible. As you can see from the photos, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant were accommodating to fans who wanted autographs. The position players working out aren't even "officially" in camp yet, as the official reporting date is next Tuesday and the first full-squad workout is Wednesday, Feb. 25. I'll head over to Mesa to check out that, too. Before that, there's going to be a rededication ceremony at Sloan Park, for the new ballpark name, Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 24. In the last photo in the gallery above, you can see they're still finishing up work on the park before the ceremony.
I took the photos above and the nine short videos below to give you a flavor of what goes on during these workouts. They can get a bit monotonous to watch -- after all, how many times can you watch pitchers do the same fielding drill over and over and over -- but this is how teams get prepared for the season, so that players respond to plays by instinct, rather than have to think about what to do.
The nicest thing about going to these workouts is that there aren't a lot of people around -- a couple hundred at most -- and the atmosphere is pretty relaxed. I could go right up close to the fence and take these photos and videos and no one minds at all. If you can ever make it out to Mesa for the two weeks' worth of workouts before spring-training games begin, it's well worth checking out an hour or two.