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Cub Tracks pitches in

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the spring lockout, Gimenez brought jokes, Yu in blue, and other bullets and tweets and such

Yu can do it!
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Last time through the turnstiles, Cub Tracks had just arrived at camp, along with the pitchers and catchers, moving the narrative focus from Chicago to Mesa, the early-spring home of the Chicago Cubs. The pitchers’ and catchers’ first workouts were Wednesday. The link takes you to Al’s account of the first day, with pictures and video.

We have a rare Morrissey appearance on this page. Not the mopey singer, the mopey columnist. And we have plenty of other content this time around the bend.

As noted below, today is the natal anniversary of The Penguin, Ron Cey, who helped the Cubs to a playoff appearance, and Nate Schierholtz, he of the one-pretty-good-year-as-a-Cub. Also Rolando Roomes, whose autograph I had for a while, and who displaced Rafael Palmeiro in several iterations of the 1989 season that I ran for kicks on The Show ‘16.

All for your possible infotainment pleasure. Enjoy. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

  • 1964 - Cubs second baseman Ken Hubbs, twenty-two, is found dead in his private plane which crashed on February 13, 1964, near Provo, Utah, while en route to Colton, California. As a rookie in 1962, Hubbs had played in 78 consecutive games without making an error.
  • 1990 - With the issue of the implementation of salary cap unresolved, a thirty-two-day lockout begins when major league owners refuse to open spring training camp without reaching a new Basic Agreement with the players. The season will be delayed one week due to baseball’s seventh work stoppage and will need to be extended for three days to accommodate the 162-game schedule.
  • Happy birthday: Charlie Irwin, Chuck Estrada, Ron Cey, Rolando Roomes, Nate Schierholtz

Cubs news and notes:

“If you look at our needs, knock on wood if we can stay healthy and productive for the most part through our roster, everybody’s back and for the next few years. We shouldn’t have tremendous needs.

“But we have some work to do to make sure we’re in position to be able to pounce if a certain great fit or just the right special player happens to become available or somebody wants to be in Chicago and something becomes too good to turn down, too impactful or too good to deal would mean too much to the team, we just have to work hard to get in position to do that. Rosters are flexible, payrolls are flexible.

“We would never put ourselves in a position to be completely inflexible going forward, but when you commit $126 million to someone, that does take away a little bit from future flexibility.” — Theo Epstein

  • Theo Epstein on Mully and Hanley (670 The SCORE):[AUDIO].
  • Jed Hoyer on ESPN: [AUDIO].
  • NBC Sports Chicago: Yu Darvish Press Conference [VIDEO].
  • Fox Sports: With Darvish, well-armed Cubs hold first spring workout. ”We did not like the way last year ended,” Joe Maddon said.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Additions give Cubs most-improved staff in baseball. “...what looks like an inconsequential improvement comes out to three or four wins in a season.”
  • Vinnie Duber (NBC Sports Chicago*): Cubs thrilled with big free-agent splash: ‘We really haven’t seen the best Yu Darvish yet’. “It’s great when you add a talent like that to a team that’s already expected to be at the top of the division. It’s great,” said Brandon Morrow.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Timing is everything? Cubs will find out after landing Yu Darvish on second try. “So much for Plan A.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Chris Gimenez on pal Yu Darvish: ‘I like [Jon] Lester better’. “He’s (Yu) got 126 million reasons to come here. I’m not one of them,” he added.
  • Merritt Rohlfing (MLB Daily Dish): What the Cubs can do for Yu Darvish. “...the Cubs have the track record to help make Darvish the best possible version of himself.”
  • Brendan Miller (Cubs Insider): How Yu Darvish changes win projections. “FanGraphs’ accumulated pitching WAR for the Cubs next season was 18.7 before Darvish inked up, and now it’s 20.6.”
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): Signing day: Inside the Cubs’ recruiting pitch to Yu Darvish. “The Cubs — they know how to recruit a player,” Joel Wolfe said.
  • Evan Altman (Cubs Insider): Six appeal: Cubs say Mike Montgomery to work as starter in spring training. “We’re approaching spring training as if we have a six-man starting staff, and Mike Montgomery is part of those six,” Epstein said.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Mike Montgomery accepting of role in Cubs’ bullpen. “I liked winning the World Series a couple years ago, and even getting to the playoffs last year, you realize being on a winning team is the most important [thing],” Montgomery said.
  • Russell Dorsey (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Will the Cubs’ real closer please step forward? “The Cubs may be just fine this season with their current plan, but if their plan falters, the decision to not have a proven answer will loom large.”
  • Rick Morrissey (Chicago Sun-Times*): Cubs counting on new closer Morrow to dance amid the pressure. “I plan on being really good anytime I’m out there,’’ he said.
  • CBS Chicago*: Cubs to use Brandon Morrow in structured, 9th-inning closer’s role. “We don’t see a closer controversy. We don’t see bullpen by committee. We think we’ve got a really good bullpen, and Morrow’s the closer,” said Theo Epstein.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com): Joe Maddon using art to inspire Cubs this spring. “Have no fear of perfection -- you’ll never reach it.” — Salvador Dali
  • Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Maddon melds baseball, art in surrealistic day at Cubs camp. “I want them to think of themselves as artists also,” he said of his players.
  • Bruce Levine (CBS Chicago Sports*): World Series hangover long gone for newly motivated, hungry Cubs. “The attitude of this group cannot be better,” Maddon said.
  • Sahadev Sharma (The Athletic {$}): While other contenders try to finalize rosters, Cubs happy to focus on task at hand. “I don’t think it was anyone’s choice to wait so long,” Epstein said.
  • James Neveau (NBC Chicago*): Cubs spring training position preview: Infield. “The Cubs’ infield, one of baseball’s best in 2016, took a step back defensively in 2017.”
  • Will Leitch (MLB.com): Top 20 players who will shape NL Central race. Leitch likes Joey Votto. I do too, but the Reds aren’t going to have a lot to do with the race to 1st.
  • Todd Johnson (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Minor league spring training preview: Several great storylines ahead. “With close to 300 players in camp, it’s hard to narrow the major storylines down to a few key themes, let alone a few key players.”
  • Madeleine Kenney (Chicago Sun-Times*): Cubs surprise 4 young patients with all-expenses-paid spring training trip. The patients, who all are receiving treatment at Advocate Children’s Hospital for various forms of cancer and heart health issues, were invited to Cubs spring training in Mesa, Arizona next week.
  • Dan Cahill (Chicago Sun-Times*): Ex-Cub Travis Wood nearly lost his finger in a crossbow accident. The former Cub hurler almost had the index finger on his right hand removed in a hunting misadventure.
  • ESPN: Anthony Rizzo tweets condolences, alarm over shooting at alma mater. Rizzo said he hoped the people of Parkland, Florida, would come together in “this darkest of times.”

Food for thought:

Thanks for playing along.