Pitchers and catchers reported to Cubs camp on Tuesday, so the fields at the team's facility were packed and active.
After a quiet off-season, many fans expressed pessimism about the 2020 team, but President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and manager David Ross began Spring Training feeling the opposite emotion – optimism.
“I feel a lot better about the organization,” Epstein said. “I think we made a lot of progress in some important areas this off-season. I know it might bring some eye rolls because there wasn’t the kind of significant change to the roster that could have happened under another iteration of this, but I’m genuinely optimistic about this group."
Ross spoke about a sense of renweal energy.
“Guys are excited, they’ve talked about it, there’s been a lot of communication in the offseason," Ross said. "Guys are – I think they’ve kind of enjoyed people kind of counting them out or having a little of the ‘what if’ vibe. I think they’re out to prove something, from what I see in their eyes and their comments."
Chicago Cubs Pitchers & Catchers Report to Mesa
Ross, 42, said he wants to implement some changes this spring, but, “nothing earth shattering.”
“I think the main thing is there’s been a lot of success here, and these guys have had a lot of experiences to pull from,” Ross said. “Just coming back and paying attention to some of the details: grinding at-bats, focus on cleaning up our base running a little bit, some of the small details where some things have maybe gone awry in the last year or two."
While the team looks forward to the coming season, questions about its former manager Joe Maddon, became a topic of conversation.
In an article published Tuesday on ESPN, Maddon said he and Epstein had, “philosophical differences” at the end of his tenure as Cubs manager. Epstein said he loves Maddon and values his friendship, but did not deny philosophical differences developed.
“Joe and I aren’t exactly the same,” Epstein said. “His approach was more that things will work themselves out, these are great players, let them play, these things will work out, but from my perspective, there was a little more cause for concern."
Chicago Cubs Still Frames
Epstein also addressed Kris Bryant’s situation. This offseason, the Cubs third baseman lost his service time grievance and saw his name mentioned in trade rumors for months. The Cubs president of baseball operations recently communicated with Bryant and said all is well as the former MVP gets set to report to camp later in the week.
“I’ve had a good text exchange with KB checking in recently,” Epstein said. “Whether the trade rumors or the grievance matter, there are no hard feelings on either side. He’s excited to be reporting to camp towards the end of this week, he’s excited for the 2020 season, excited about becoming a dad here soon, and we’re excited to get started,."
Cubs pitchers and catchers will hold their first official workout of Spring Training 2020 on Wednesday. Position players don't have to report to camp until next Monday.