7/18 Cubs defend DR complex

The Cubs were incensed by a story that criticized the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic. Major League players who have trained there say the facility is well above average.
The story, in Time magazine’s July 26 issue, talked about how some Major League teams are building new academies on the island and pointed out the San Diego Padres spent $8 million on a place that “feels like a resort.” However, the Cubs’ complex did not get a glowing review. According to the story, the reporter went to the Cubs academy one afternoon and said 10 prospects were “piled into a room that, at best could comfortably fit two or three.” There were four bunk beds “crammed” into the space and two players were sleeping on a mattress on the floor.

The writer took a picture and showed it to Sandy Alderson, whom Major League Baseball has hired to “clean up the sport” in the Dominican. Alderson told Time the conditions were “not acceptable,” but the story says Alderson also “later insisted that not all 10 prospects actually lived in that room and that players sometimes sleep on the floor because it’s cooler.”

Alderson contacted Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita, who said the story did not accurately portray what was going on at the complex that day. Fleita said players were sharing a room because maids were cleaning the other rooms and that the mattress was on the floor because a player had a bad back and it was more comfortable to sleep that way.

The writer never contacted Fleita or Cubs general manager Jim Hendry or any of the Dominican players on the Major League team.

“It was very unfair and very unprofessional,” Fleita said of the article.

“I’ve been down there and we’ve housed and fed up to 50 to 60 players at a time,” Hendry said Sunday. “We certainly feel like our whole situation down there is well above average. It’s certainly good enough for our Major League players to go in there and help in the offseason when they’re home. We have such a good relationship with [Alfonso] Soriano and [Aramis] Ramirez and [Carlos] Marmol that if they felt there were any glaring deficiencies, they would’ve come to me.”

Soriano was at the Cubs’ Dominican facility five days a week this past winter to rehab his knee and compared the center to a good Minor League complex.

“It’s not like the big leagues — it’s like a Minor League complex in the United States,” Soriano said. “They have rooms for the kids, a good kitchen, good food. The field is OK. For me, what I see, there’s nothing bad.”

Marmol, who also has worked out at the complex, said the Cubs facility was a huge improvement over what the team used to have.

“Now, it’s fantastic, beautiful,” Marmol said. “Now, there are two fields and nice places to stay. I wish it was like that when I was younger.”

— Carrie Muskat

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