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Cub Tracks’ Heart Burns

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Catching up with Schwarber, 2B or not 2B, and other bullets

Chicago Cubs Victory Celebration Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The last time we were in these parts, Cub Tracks wished everyone Love, Arizona Style, and then ran off to put a honeymoon salad on a blue plate special.

Great to see so much happening as the Cubs cruise into spring training. I no longer have to stretch metaphors further than Eel O’Brian, and soon there will be actual baseball games played instead of all this word salad.

Yeah. That does my heart good. I dunno about you, but I’m over 2016 and ready for 2017. I think it was re-upping MLB.TV that did the trick — the rite of spring for me for seven years now. And my heart needs something good and light. Today is the 6th anniversary of the day I went to the hospital and woke up two months later, and that’s soul-heavy stuff.

Such things call for a divorce from reality, and Cubs baseball is the best alternate reality I know of, a powerful panacea for what ails you (or me). The game determines my schedule both during the season and after — I write these columns during game-time (or when the game would be happening if there’s no game), perhaps driven by my ‘stitiousness, or the lifetime habit of being planted in front of the tv when the game is on. It’s even better now that the team is competitive, but nothing has endangered that habit since I was eight. That's Cub right there.

How many of you used to run home to see the last ⅔ of the game? Raise my hand if you’re telekinetic, too.

Let’s go! Batter up! We’re taking the afternoon off.

Let’s talk about some baseball. As always * means autoplay on (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history**:

  • 1950 - Writers fail to name anyone to the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. Mel Ott and Bill Terry top the list for enshrinement, but neither receives the necessary 126 votes.
  • 1952 - Hall of Famer Honus Wagner, 77, retires as a coach. He receives a pension from the Pirates and the number 33 he wore as a coach will be the first to be retired in Pittsburgh.
  • 1953 - Brooklyn, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia participate in a four-way trade that sends five players to new clubs. Joe Adcock (Reds) and Jim Pendleton (Dodgers) will now play for the Braves, Earl Torgeson (Braves) goes to the Phillies, Rocky Bridges (Dodgers) is now a Red, with Russ Meyer (Phillies) joining the Dodgers.
  • 1967 - Red Ruffing is selected for the Hall of Fame through a special runoff election since nobody received the required 75 percent vote in January. Ruffing won 273 games and pitched in seven World Series for the Yankees.
  • 1989 - Orel Hershiser becomes the first player in major league history to sign a contract that calls for a $3 million annual salary by inking a three-year, $7.9 million contract with the Dodgers that will pay him $3,166,667 in 1991.
  • 2004 - After leaving the team in 2007 to join Texas as a free agent, Doug Glanville returns to Philadelphia when he signs a one-year contract with the team. The 31-year-old outfielder, who will retire at the end of the season after compiling a lifetime batting average of .277 during his nine-year tenure in the major leagues, leaves with a 293-game errorless streak intact.
  • 2007 - Baseball’s Playing Rules Committee approves several changes, making it the first time since 1996 that the rules of the game have been altered. A 10-game suspension for a player who scuffs a baseball, elimination of tie games which must be halted (after the fifth inning) due to weather by resuming the game before the next scheduled start at the same ballpark, players may no longer go into a dugout to make a catch, and allowing pitchers to wear undistracting multicolored gloves are among new rules which will start this season.
  • 2011 - Speaking to reporters at the Phillies' spring training complex, a tearful Dallas Green thanked everyone for their support after the shooting death of his granddaughter. Nine year-old Christina Taylor-Green was one of six victims killed in a shooting rampage outside of a Tucson supermarket.
  • 2013 - After an appearance at a local winter festival, Guido’s costume, worn by one of the Brewers’ racing sausages, goes missing. A seven-foot Italian sausage impersonator will be seen later in the night frequenting bars in Milwaukee, signing autographs.

Read all about it:

  • MLB.com: Sean Casey and Jim Thome talk about left-handed power hitters on MLB Tonight. Anthony Rizzo is discussed.
  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation: Members Only Exhibit Preview: “The Rivalry: Cubs vs. Cardinals”. Second item on the list. That’d be pretty cool to see. The exhibit opens to the public March 24 in Springfield, Illinois.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Jake Arrieta open to contract extension with Cubs. "I think we'll have talks," Arrieta said prior to the first workout for pitchers and catchers. "It's not my No. 1 priority."
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Jake Arrieta hopes for extension but mindful of how contract talks work. "There is an open dialogue there," he said.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Why Jake Arrieta’s countdown to free agency shouldn’t become a distraction for Cubs. “Honestly, it can be a positive for him and for us,” manager Joe Maddon said.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Joe Maddon discusses Jake Arrieta [VIDEO].
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Miguel Montero focused on team, not his role in '17. "I'm here to do my job, it's as simple as that," Montero said on Wednesday.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Making sense of the friction between Miguel Montero and Joe Maddon. "We haven't talked," Montero said. “But all I care about is my teammates right now. Other than that, I can care less about the rest, to be honest."
  • Rick Morrissey (Chicago Sun-Times): The leader in the Cubs’ clubhouse is — and was — Miguel Montero. “...I want to be accountable to my teammates. Simple as that. They need me, I’m there for them,’’ Montero related.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Hector Rondon hopes to be ready to pitch in World Baseball Classic. "I want to be there," Rondon said. "I have to throw a couple bullpens to see where I am."
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune {$}): Cubs will use restraint to ease Kyle Schwarber into limited catching role. He’ll be more useful next year, after the knee heals completely and Miguel Montero rides off into the sunset.
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Does Kyle Schwarber have a future at catcher? “We’re just going to walk before we run. Or walk before we squat, I guess, would be the appropriate thing to say with catching, and just really, really ease into it,” Theo Epstein remarked.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Kyle Schwarber to get time behind plate this spring. Schwarber is in the best shape of his life™ and has been medically cleared to join the catchers in drills this spring.
  • Mike Axisa (CBS Sports*): Kyle Schwarber cleared to catch, though the Cubs might not need him behind the plate. “If he winds up behind the plate, it’ll be in an emergency situation.”
  • Adam Nissen (Sports Mockery): Kyle Schwarber shares motivational advice from David Ross. Bob Seger and Metallica have shared it too.
  • Larry Scott (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Check your expectations for Kyle Schwarber. “...we are dealing with too small a sample to truly know what to expect from Schwarber this season.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times): 2B or not 2B? Baez fine with continued job share in Cubs infield. “...right now it’s just about getting better and helping the team,” he said.
  • Darius Austin (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): The 90th percentile Cubs. “...I’m going to look at the system’s view of the Cubs through the most rose-tinted glasses.”
  • Dan Szymborski (ESPN* Insider {$}): Which team made all the right moves to win in 2017? The Cubs are in the middle of this pack.
  • Keith Law (ESPN* Insider {$}): Prospects who can make a major impact in 2017. Albert Almora, Jr is on this list.
  • Eddie Matz (ESPN): Did Joe Maddon break Bryce Harper? “From May 9 -- the day after the Cubs series -- through the end of the regular season, a span of 116 games, Harper hit just .238 (135th out of 148 qualified batters) while posting a .395 slugging percentage (127th) and a .752 OPS (101st).”
  • Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago*): Why Cubs didn’t make a last-minute addition and saved up for the trade deadline. "We really want to be cognizant of leaving some flexibility for in-season moves, leaving a little cushion beneath the CBT (competitive balance tax) threshold for us to be able to operate," said Epstein.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Why Cubs passed on Travis Wood, other relievers. “They were just too far out in front of the market.”
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): Kris Bryant’s flatter swing resulted in fewer high flies. Cool. Dig the new toys.
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): Joe Maddon has some new sayings for Cubs. That's Cub too.
  • Jason P. Skoda (Daily Herald {$}): With championship drought over, 'That's Cub' has new meaning. Literally freighted with new weight.
  • John Arguello (Cubs Den): Photo Gallery: Pitchers and Catchers Report Day. As good as thousands of words.
  • Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun-Times): Aroldis Chapman: ‘I was just being truthful’ about use in World Series.Chapman stressed that he wasn’t intending to be disrespectful.
  • Steve Greenberg (Chicago Sun-Times): Adam Warren on Series: ‘Being on outside looking in was tough’. “It’s still a goal of mine to win a World Series. It’s nice to have been a part of it, but I kind of felt like I was at arm’s length and not really a part of it because I got traded away.”
  • MLB Network: Wade Davis joins Hot Stove.

Food for thought:

  • Stephanie Pappas (Live Science): Ya had to be there: Science confirms we're bad at telling stories. "We worry too much about thrilling our listeners and not enough about confusing them."
  • Jocelyn Kaiser (Science): U.S. panel gives yellow light to human embryo editing. “...only for compelling reasons and under strict oversight.”
  • Elizabeth Eaton (Science News): Fossil shows that ancient reptile gave live birth. Archosauromorph ditched eggs.

** information gleaned from Today in baseball history and National Pastime.

Thanks for reading. Smell you Sunday at St. Alphonso’s. Frank’s ghost may never forgive me for using two apostrophes.