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A big crowd watched Monday’s Cubs live batting practice

This is a new concept from manager David Ross.

A portion of the large crowd watching Monday’s practice
Al Yellon

MESA, Arizona — Truth be told, you should have been able to see these videos yesterday, but for some reason I was having a terrible time getting them uploaded and I wanted to make sure you all read the Tom Ricketts interview.

So instead, here they are this morning, still of interest.

Judging from this daily schedule from Monday, it seems that manager David Ross is placing a great deal of emphasis on fundamentals this year.

Al Yellon

As you likely read over the weekend, the Cubs are holding live batting-practice sessions with a twist this year — there’s an umpire actually calling balls and strikes. This gives more of a realistic game-situation feeling for the players, and it was interesting to watch three of the Cubs’ best hitters — Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez — stand in the box taking offerings from Tyler Chatwood and not swinging at any of them:

Note that KB’s stance is quite a bit more upright here than it has been in previous years.

It was interesting to hear an umpire loud and clear making those calls, without a huge ballpark crowd drowning out that voice. There were a couple hundred people watching this workout, as you can see by the photo at the top of this post, probably lured out by a beautiful 74-degree day and a school holiday (lots of kids around).

I should note that though you can hear the umpire call “strike” on most of those pitches, it didn’t appear that some of them were actually in the zone. Chatwood throws hard, though; that’s especially noticeable up that close. Hopefully, he will actually keep those pitches in the strike zone this year.

It’s just four days until the Sloan Park opener against the Athletics. We should soon hear who’s going to start that game — though don’t expect it to be one of the rotation starters. I would think we won’t see any of those five pitchers in games — including Chatwood — until late next week.