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Cub Tracks sallies fourth

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Buzzing with excitement, gimme some glove, a good day to get a haircut, and other bullets

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Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2014 - Arrivals
Yes, that’s right! Sally Solomon (Kristen Johnston). You win a Mars bar!
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Time marches on...last time around the bend, Cub Tracks emitted a subreference to the immortal Mark Blankfield, the noted pharmacist. Today’s deep dive might be viewable only if you can open your eyes wider than French Stewart, who probably hears these voices without enhancements.

Thanks for putting up with us reading and playing along at home, and, as always * means autoplay on™ (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome). Now, back to baseball.

Today in baseball history:

  • 1912 - With the shanties torn down and the garbage pits filled in the Pigtown section in Brooklyn, Charles Ebbets breaks ground for his team’s new Bedford Avenue ballpark.
  • 1913 - The Yankees are the first team to train outside the U.S. when they travel to Bermuda for spring practice.
  • 2004 - Commissioner Bud Selig announces major league baseball will celebrate “Jackie Robinson Day” in every ballpark on April 15, the anniversary of the debut of the first black player in the major leagues.
  • 2012 - A swarm of bees, that moved down the right field line and settled near the Giants’ dugout behind first base, causes two sections of fans to be evacuated, resulting in a 41-minute delay of the Giants’ split squad game against the Diamondbacks. The Salt River Fields grounds crew uses a combination of lemonade and cotton candy obtained from the concession stand to lure the buzzing insects away from fans and players.
  • Happy Cub birthdays: Jim Korwan, Red Murray, Earl Tyree, Clyde McCullough, Dave Stevens.

Cubs news and notes:

Joe Maddon has Jason Heyward leading off today. Its the first time someone other than Ian Happ or Albert Almora Jr has been at the top of the lineup this spring. Maddon: “Check it out. Take it for a test drive. I like what he’s (Heyward) doing right now. Just want to make sure we’re looking at every possibility.” — ESPN

  • Jared Diamond (The Wall Street Journal {$}): How the Cubs mastered the free-agent sales pitch. “...by selling prospective players on everything outside baseball.”
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Cubs reportedly targeted three potential future managers to bring in as coaches. “...Mark DeRosa, Raúl Ibañez, and Aaron Boone wound up not coming.” Evan Altman (Cubs Insider) also expounds on this subject.
  • Jon Greenberg (The Athletic {$}): Q&A with Will Venable, the Cubs’ new first base coach and base-stealing guru. “The players have been great. I can’t imagine the transition into coaching being any easier,” Venable said.
  • Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer disappointed with Joe Maddon’s dye job. “The good thing is he’s going to shave it, so that’ll will keep us from looking at this for a little while while it grows back,” Hoyer said.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Cubs go bald for pediatric cancer research. “It was a good day to get a haircut” on Saturday, at the fourth annual Respect Bald fundraiser.
  • Jesse Rogers (ESPN*): Gimme some glove: Cubs explain their spring breaking-in rituals. “I don’t want anyone touching my glove,” Willson Contreras stated. “I take care of it like a baby.”
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Yu Darvish was excellent after trade to the tinkering Dodgers, but Cubs want him to be himself. “Making sure a guy uses his entire arsenal is really important,” Hoyer said.
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Jose Quintana content learning ropes under new Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey. “We have a consistent rotation and I don’t want to say the best one but one of the best,” Quintana said.
  • William Chase (Cubs Insider): Not-so-high five: Tyler Chatwood could raise his game at lower altitude. “...his exceptional groundball rate” bodes well for his future.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Willson Contreras tries to keep focus on baseball while mind on brother. “He’s doing all right now, but I’m scared because he’s by himself down in Venezuela,” Contreras said.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer (Chicago Sun-Times*): Battle-scarred Kris Bryant of Cubs promises leadership, ‘fight’ for next CBA. “This offseason is one that really opened my eyes,” said Bryant.
  • Brett Taylor (Bleacher Nation): Bryant is looking forward to fighting for his union brethren. “...the team is going to need a new representative to the MLB Players Association.”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Albert Almora Jr. hoping to get right against right-handers. “...you can do as many things in the batting cage, but playing is the way to learn,” he said.
  • Russell Dorsey (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): Albert Almora may be a fourth outfielder — and that’s ok. “...it’s likely Ian Happ is not only the Cubs’ leadoff hitter when they break camp, but also the starting center fielder.”
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Jason Heyward happy to help in leadoff auditions. “It could be [an audition] in his mind, but I’m here to play whenever or wherever,” Heyward said, of his manager’s unpredictable style.
  • Chris De Luca (Chicago Sun-Times*): Jeff Samardzija opens up about picking Cubs over NFL and that special contract. “There was value in them having to buy me out of football,” Samardzija told MLB.com.
  • Carrie Muskat (MLB.com*): Duane Underwood hones in to rekindle prospect buzz. “Getting outs is the sole goal here,” he said.
  • Bruce Miles (Daily Herald {$}): Local connections fuel drive of four nonroster Cubs players. Ryan Court, Peter Bourjos, Taylor Davis, and Jacob Hanneman all have close ties to the area.

Food for thought:

Continued on next rock.