SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Here's an interesting article from Bruce Miles in the Daily Herald about the Cubs' new mental skills program, directed by Josh Lifrak, who has been in the business of helping athletes in this area for a decade. It seems to have particularly helped Mike Olt:
Some Cubs players are taking advantage of what's available. Third baseman Mike Olt, who has struggled at the plate at times in his young career, worked with Lifrak this winter. "That was kind of a big thing for me, getting over a lot of negative thoughts," Olt said. "It's just the way they word things and can talk about and reiterate, 'You did do some good things last year and you've got to try to focus on those' and go from there."
This is really important, I think, and I'm glad the Cubs have created this program. Bruce Miles quotes Theo:
Epstein admits this large-scale undertaking on mental skills and sports psychology may not have been widely accepted a few decades ago. "It would have been a little bolder," he said. "I don't think it's that bold of a move right now. It's just trying to keep up with the Joneses and trying to get an edge. Yeah, 24 years ago or whatever, when I started, it was seen as a real stigma if you approached a player about maybe talking to someone about working on his mental game. His response was, 'You think I'm nuts.' "You still see that now and then, but it's the exception, not the rule, I think. More and more players are being proactive, acknowledging that's an area where they can get an edge."
Here are today's game particulars:
Fowler CF, Denorfia LF, Rizzo 1B, Montero DH, Baez 2B, Baxter RF, Ross C, La Stella 3B, Russell SS
One day this spring we will see Kris Bryant start a game in front of the home crowd. Today, unfortunately, is not that day.
Hamilton CF, Byrd LF, Phillips 2B, Frazier 3B, Mesoraco C, Dominguez 1B, Cozart SS, Schumaker RF, Satin DH
Travis Wood will start for the Cubs, his third start of the spring. Other Cubs pitchers on today's list: Corey Black, Donn Roach, Zac Rosscup and Brian Schlitter.
Johnny Cueto goes for the Reds. He will be followed (not necessarily in this order) by Ryan Dennick, Jon Moscot, Carlos Contreras and our old buddy Kevin Gregg
Today's game is the first televised game on WGN-TV this year, with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. It's also on WBBM radio 780 with Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer.
Please note that during spring training, Gameday doesn't usually go pitch-by-pitch as it does during the regular season -- usually, it will update after each at-bat.
For spring-training games, we'll have a first-pitch thread at five minutes to game time and one overflow thread, 90 minutes after game time (because I know how you all like overflow threads!). For today, that will be 3:05 p.m. CT and 4:30 p.m. CT. These threads will not post individually onto the front page; instead, you can find links to them in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page. They will also appear in this StoryStream™. The pitcher box and regular-season stats will return on Opening Day.
Discuss amongst yourselves.