MESA, Arizona -- The most remarkable thing about watching quite a number of Cubs regulars take batting practice on Field 1 in Mesa, the field just west of Sloan Park, wasn't the workout itself. That was pretty ordinary, hitters in the cage, a few shagging balls in the outfield, a bit of ground-ball practice.
What was remarkable was the number of people watching. Remember, this is Wednesday morning, a work day. There aren't any "official" team activities scheduled, no game, it's well before spring break... and yet there were probably close to 100 people watching (photos 15 and 16).
That would have been a good crowd for official workouts up to a couple of years ago.
But now the Cubs are coming off a 97-win season and are considered by many to be the favorites to win the N.L. pennant and maybe even the World Series. That brings out, obviously, a lot more people. I'd expect three or four times that many people to show up Saturday for the first official pitcher and catcher workout and the first full-squad workout next Wednesday.
Otherwise the BP session went pretty much as you see it here. Players stepped in and out of the cage, took their swings, and then the next guy moved in. Javier Baez was the most impressive of the BP hitters, smashing several balls well over the wall in left-center. (I was glad that someone walked up to me when I was parking my car and suggested I might move it farther away!)
I don't have a photo of him here, as I saw him from too far a distance, but it appears that Trevor Cahill has dropped quite a bit of weight. (Yes, I know. "Best Shape Of His Life.")
Enjoy this first look at the 2016 Cubs. I'll be at the pitcher/catcher workout on Saturday and will have more photos and hopefully, video.