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- Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Cubs will open spring training with "World Series or Bust" mindset. "Last year is over with," Anthony Rizzo said. "It’s time to gear up for 2016...."
- Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago*): Cubs have a new motto -- "Embrace the target." "My main point of focus is to ’embrace the target,'" Maddon said of lofty expectations.
- Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): Embrace the target: Joe Maddon wants players to run into the fire. What does "The Mad Scientist" have in store to keep the Cubs loose in 2016?
- Tyler Smith (Cubs Insider): Maddon exhorts Cubs to 'Embrace the target', win eight more games. Joe Maddon already has a motto for the 2016 Cubs.
- Dan Roan (WGN): Cubs 'embracing the target' as spring training begins. [VIDEO]
- David Haugh (Chicago Tribune): Managing expectations for hyped Cubs is Joe Maddon's biggest challenge. "This is a special place and a special time to be in this place,'' Cubs President Theo Epstein said.
I shot an arrow into the air:
- Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): "Tanks" a lot: Other teams clearing path for Cubs by following their blueprint. Cubs team president Theo Epstein isn’t the biggest fan of the term "tanking." "I prefer ‘long-term planning,’ " Epstein said. "Or ‘medium-term planning.’ "
- Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): Theo Epstein, Cubs not feeling "sense of urgency" with contract extension. "It's not a concern," Epstein said. "We agree on the fundamentals - I want to be here and I think he wants us here. It'll take care of itself."
- Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*); Cubs 'monitor' remaining free agents in slow-moving market. "Nothing appears imminent, but Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said the club continues to monitor the status of a sizeable group of remaining big-league free agents as pitchers and catchers officially reported for spring training Friday."
- Jesse Rogers (ESPN*) Five top storylines heading into spring training. 1. Is this the Chicago Cubs' year?
- Ben Bishop (The Other Journal): Every year is our year. "Unlike every other sport, baseball does not hate time or find itself in fatal conflict with it."
- Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune): Jake Arrieta content with innings limit. "...As nice as it is to complete games as a starter, it’s even nicer to pitch meaningful innings in October, as I now know from last year’s experience."
- Bruce Miles (Daily Herald): Cubs say they're taking nothing for granted in 2016. "We all have really good heads on our shoulders," said Kris Bryant. "I think the veterans will put us in track if any of us gets out of line. We've got a good balance here."
- Matt Yallof: Cubs report early to Mesa. [VIDEO]
- Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Questions persist about the Pirates and Cardinals; Will they be really be great again? "Although neither team did much to improve for 2016, most pundits continue to hold them in high regard, based on the indisputable success of their 2015 seasons."
The next level:
- Tony Andracki (CSN Chicago*): David Ross confirms that he will retire after 2016. "It's time," Ross said. "I don't want to be that guy that stays at the party too long. It's time to get kicked out of the party."
- Jesse Rogers (ESPN): David Ross looking to go out a winner in his final season. "He'd love to retire a champion while helping the Cubs break a 107-year drought, but he'll be more focused on the day-to-day, taking in the little things."
- Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago*) Cubs cognizant of defensive concerns in outfield. "I have a good grasp of center field," Heyward said Friday. "Right field is pretty much me, so I am good there. As far as playing center, I need to just take more reps. I know the basics of center. I just need to act it out and after that, it will become home."
- Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Window-smasher Kyle Schwarber is still a catcher. On Friday, he worked with the catchers. "This morning I was a catcher," Schwarber said. "I'm still a catcher." The plan this spring is to have him work at both catcher and in the outfield.
- David N. Wilson (Baseball Essential): Chicago Cubs: Pirates are the rival; Cardinals in third. The Cubs didn't say that. Wilson said this: "I believe it’s more likely that if anyone gives a solid chase to the Cubbies, it’s going to be the Pittsburgh Pirates." He goes on to make the case.
On the fly:
- John Arguello (Cubs Den): Pictures from first pitchers' workout.
- Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): I'm a Cubs fan because...a fanthology of love notes. "45 tales of love and loss spurred by a team that knows enough about both to fill a library."
- Chicago Cubs Online: Matt Murton extremely grateful for opportunity with the Cubs. Murton will be in the outfield mix when the Cactus League games start.
- Aldo Soto (Sports Mockery): NL executives hate the Jason Heyward signing. "ESPN’s Jayson Stark did an offseason poll of 35 MLB executives on the best and worst moves of the offseason and it’s clear that the majority hates the Heyward signing."
- Ray Fischer (Sports Mockery): 5 weaknesses the Cubs have to overcome. "This is not say that the Cubs are in bad shape for the season, but there is plenty to improve upon."
- Adrian Garro (Fox Sports): Addison Russell probably has better dance moves than you.
Food for thought:
- Popular Mechanics: How to make a bow and arrow by hand.
- Why do our cells' power plants have their own DNA? "A new study may have found an answer."
- Kids practice authentic science. "What's cool is when kids are doing authentic science," said Kevin Molohon, a science teacher at Champlin Park High School in Minnesota. "In a typical classroom, you're teaching lots of facts, but that's not science. ... A good project is one a student is interested in finding the answer to. If it's something you're into, you won't mind doing the research and gathering the data."