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Cub Tracks enjoys chili in the shade

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Duensing’s natal anniversary, The Maddon chronicles, out of this world discoveries, and other meritorious fare to reward a casual perusal

MLB: NLCS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs
Birthday boy on the bump
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Last time through the gate, Cub Tracks was IN. Kris Bryant is IN. Are you in?

“I love the slow dance of Spring Training. You need to treat Spring Training as though your players just came down from Mars. Even though they might be accomplished players, you need to take it back to step one. In the off-season, everything goes to the back of your mind and you need to bring it back to the front.” — Joe Maddon

Mars? Tim Buss has that covered.

Yu wouldn’t lie, would Yu?

Puttin’ on the Rizz. He’s a ‘good Italian boy’, says one Downers Grove couple.

Hold the popcorn? And now for the news. As always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Today in baseball history:

  • 1889 - Italy’s King Humbert is among the fans who witness the Chicagos beat the All-Americans, 3-2, outside of Rome at the Villa Borghese. Originally billed as the Spalding’s Australian Baseball Tour, the trip is expanded to include contests in Europe, much to the surprise of the captive players aboard ship en route to the Land Down Under.
  • 1934 - George Lee Anderson is born in Bridgewater, South Dakota. He will earn the nickname Sparky, play 152 games for the Phillies in 1959, and never play another major league game. He will, however, win 2,194 games and capture world championships in both the N.L. and A.L. as manager of the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers.
  • 2005 - Tom Umberg, a California state assemblyman, introduces legislation which would require pro franchises to use disclaimers if they do not play the majority of home games in the location used in their name. With his ‘Truth in Sports Advertising Act,’ the legislator is trying to prevent the local team from changing its name to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
  • Happy birthday: Steve Barber, Eric Yelding, Brian Duensing.

Cubs news and notes:

  • Rob Huff (The Athletic {$}): Just like last year, Cubs spending to maximize wins, avoid luxury tax. “...the soft ceiling imposed by the tax is much harder in the minds of front offices and ownership groups.”
  • Jon Ferlise (Cubs Insider): The beauty of Cubs baseball and why #EverybodyIn slogan fits so well. “It’s why the Cubs have always been loved, win or lose, by millions of fans. They do family well.”
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): New coaches help bring a new vibe to Cubs camp. “One thing is certain: There has been a change in volume.”
  • Dan Cahill (Chicago Sun-Times*): Red Sox owner John Henry throws shade at Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis. “I think our approach last year was lacking offensively and we had issues that the players have already talked about,” Henry said. Michael Cerami also has words about that.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs manager Joe Maddon spreads responsibility to new coach Brian Butterfield. “Maddon said he likes Butterfield’s blend of knowledge, presentation and focus.”
  • Ken Schultz (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Yu Darvish: Big game pitcher. “He’s still really hard to hit when batters don’t know what’s coming.”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Darvish impresses teammates with first live BP. “It seems like I fit in naturally with the team,” he said.
  • John Perrotto (USA Today): Cubs offseason report: Rotation formidable with addition of Darvish. “The Cubs will look to make it three division crowns in a row in 2018 and have the look of a potential World Series team.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs hitters say they’re ready now for Dodgers’ high-pitch strategy. “A pitch up looks good to hit, but it’s tough to square up,” Kris Bryant said.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Willson Contreras earning respect as young leader. “I think the sky’s the limit,” Jed Hoyer said of Contreras’ potential.
  • Vinnie Duber (NBC Sports Chicago*): Changes aren’t exactly popular, but Cubs and Sox — except maybe Willson Contreras — will adapt to baseball’s new pace-of-play rules. “There was general consensus that mound visits are a valuable thing.”
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Anthony Rizzo on difference in 2018: `We have a lot to prove’. “We’re nothing. We’re bottom of the pack just like everyone else or we’re top of the pack like everyone else, depending on how you look at it,” he said.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Javier Baez can earn more plate appearances with plate discipline. “He’s at that point now (that) to get those 500 to 600 plate appearances, (he needs to) organize (his) strike zone, accept walks and use the whole field,” manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Baez attentive to Joe Maddon’s wisdom. “You don’t realize something that simple made an impact on him,” Maddon said.
  • Sean Holland (Cubs Insider): A case for Javy to Replace Addison Russell at short. “...my primary reason I believe most strongly that Baez and Russell should swap positions is throwing.”
  • Gabe Lacque (USA Today): Kris Bryant says big changes needed in CBA - and he’s ready to fight for them. “I definitely think, this off-season, just the brand in general of Major League Baseball, took a step back,” Bryant said.
  • Patrick Mooney (The Athletic {$}): Bryant explains how Jake Arrieta could transform a team like the Brewers or Phillies in post-Cubs sequel. “The word that really comes to me is the ‘presence’ that he brings,” Bryant said.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Bryant all about the art of the World Series ring, not individual honors. “All that (awards) stuff is great, but they’re just sitting up on a shelf at home. The ring is something you get to put in the safe. It’s that important.”
  • Vinnie Duber (NBC Sports Chicago*): When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: ‘I don’t suck’. “The main thing with Kyle is going to be is just maintaining focus,” said Davis.
  • Eric Strobel (NBC Sports Chicago*): Albert Almora’s strong connection to Team USA baseball. “I’m a Cubbie and that’s what’s on my chest right now, but Team USA will always have a special place in my heart.”

Food for thought:

Thanks for being.