November 2010

11/30 Spring Training schedule update

Expect the Cubs to release the 2011 Spring Training schedule soon. The delay is because the team is still finalizing details about a split-squad weekend trip to Las Vegas.

– Carrie Muskat

11/30 More from Boca Chica, D.R.

Alfonso Soriano says he’s happy Mike Quade will continue to manage the Cubs. Quade was the outfield coach before he was promoted in August.

“It’s very exciting,” Soriano said Monday at the Cubs’ academy in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic. “What he showed the last two months of the season was great. I’ve known him as the outfielders coach, and what he showed me the last two months [as manager] showed me he’s a smart guy. I think he’ll do a very good job and I’m very excited and happy for him.”

Soriano has been working out with a personal trainer and will be a regular at the academy in January when he starts adding baseball-related activities to his workouts at the academy. He and Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez got together to order new exercise equipment for the small workout room at the facility.

“I have to keep working,” Soriano said of his offseason training. “I’ve been working on my knee and my hamstring now but in January, I’ll work with the trainer and do more work with my legs.”

He’s just as curious as other Cubs fans to see who will be playing first base for the team in 2011. Could Soriano move there from left field?

“I never played first base, so I don’t think so,” Soriano said, laughing.

– Carrie Muskat

11/29 Postcard from Boca Chica

At the Cubs’ academy in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, fans were treated to pitching tips from Sean Marshall and Koyie Hill and some advice on hitting from Hall of Famer Billy Williams. At the end of the session, Billy even got into the batting cage to take a few swings — and he was still able to line the ball to right field with one of the prettiest swings you’ll ever see. He’s still got it.

– Carrie Muskat

11/29 Postcard from Dominican Republic

The Dominican version of the Cubs Convention is a lot different than the event held every January in Chicago. On the first night, the 50 Cubs fans taking part in the trip to Bayahibe, Dominican Republic, were able to get autographs from Hall of Famer Billy Williams, plus pitchers Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall and catcher Koyie Hill while drinking El Presidente beer and pina coladas. It’s easy to lose track of what’s going on in the rest of the world when you’re in the Dominican. Marmol didn’t know Larry Rothschild had left the Cubs to go to the Yankees until he was updated Sunday.

The second night of the event, held at the Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus, included a Q&A, which Aramis Ramirez attended. Topics ranged from favorite ballparks to Williams’ favorite Hall of Fame moments to new Cubs manager Mike Quade.

On Monday, the group visited the Cubs’ academy in Boca Chica, and got autographs and photos from Alfonso Soriano and Starlin Castro. Fans could eat chicken, rice and beans with Marmol and Ramirez in the dining room. Matt Venn, one of the guests on the trip and a high school catcher, also got some private instruction from the Cubs’ catching instructor, Marty Peavy. The trip, sponsored by Apple Vacations, will feature beach games on Tuesday with the players as captains.

Not a bad way to spend a week in November.

– Carrie Muskat

11/23 Berkman wants to play

The Cubs are in pursuit of a first baseman this offseason and one option
could be Lance Berkman. He told FoxSports.com that the Cubs are one of
the teams that has talked to his agent. Berkman said the A’s have been
the “most aggressive” but they want someone who will DH. He would like to return to
the National League, which would work in the Cubs’ favor. Berkman made $14.5
million last season and would have to accept less money to sign with the
Cubs.

Berkman, who will be 35 on Feb. 10, said he was limited in 2010 after arthroscopic surgery to clean out his left knee.

“I’m
probably viewed as a declining player,” Berkman told FoxSports.com. “I
don’t blame teams for thinking like that. But I don’t view myself that
way. If I was to honestly assess where I’m at, I feel like last year was
the result of me being hurt.

“My knee was hurt all year. The
kind of injury I had prevented me from using my legs when I hit. In my
mind, I can scratch that off and say that I’ll be healthy next year, be
the player I was prior to the 2009 season. That’s kind of how I’m
looking at it.

“Obviously, I’ve got to get an opportunity,” he said. “I’ve got to go out there and prove it.”

– Carrie Muskat

11/23 NL MVP trivia

The Cubs did not have anyone finish in the top 25 in the National League Most Valuable Player voting, which the Reds’ Joey Votto won. It’s the first time since 1994 that the Cubs have been shutout in that award and did not have anyone receive a vote.

– Carrie Muskat 

11/23 Cubs vs. White Sox

The Cubs are expected to release their 2011 Spring Training schedule after Thanksgiving. However, if you want to plan to be in Arizona for the Cactus League games against the White Sox, here are the dates: the Cubs play in Glendale, Ariz., on March 11, while the White Sox play in Mesa on March 24.

– Carrie Muskat

11/23 Good cause

The Cubs have teamed up with Chicago-based National Runaway Switchboard to provide a Thanksgiving dinner for runaway and homeless youth Tuesday at St. Luke’s Church in Chicago. This will be the fifth Thanksgiving that the Cubs have worked with the group. Several members of the Cubs front office and WGN’s Cubs television producer Bob Vorwald will volunteer at the event.

National Runaway Switchboard’s mission is to keep America’s runaway and at-risk youth safe and off the streets.  The organization operates a national communication system for runaway and homeless youth through its 1-800-RUNAWAY crisis hot line and website. Youth and family members call the hot line to work through problems and to find local agencies and organizations to help.
 
The youth come to the dinner from local organizations including The Night Ministry Open Door Shelter Lake View, The Night Ministry Open Door Shelter West Town, Center on Halsted, Teen Living Program/Belfort House, Heartland Alliance/Neon Street Program, Alternatives Inc., La Casa Norte, and Boys and Girls Town Shelter.

– Carrie Muskat

11/22 Holiday shopping idea

Starting today, you can purchase ticket packages for the holidays at Cubs.com. Each Holiday Gift Pack includes tickets to four Cubs games. Fans can purchase as few as two tickets per game or as many as 12 tickets per game. Total package prices will vary based on the number of tickets purchased, with gift packs starting at just $92 (two tickets to four games).

 

As part of each Holiday Gift Pack, fans may opt to purchase Cubs Dollars at a scalable discount. Cubs Dollars are equivalent to cash at Wrigley Field and allow gift recipients to enjoy a complete experience at the ballgame. Holiday Gift Packs must be ordered by Dec. 20 to be delivered in time for Christmas Day.

11/21 Football at Wrigley – Part II

Hundreds of football and Cubs fans were able to punt, pass and kick on the football field at Wrigley Field Sunday, and all for a good cause. Those who took part in the charitable event Sunday raised $50,000 for Cubs Care. Fans were allowed on the field for one hour sessions. Many brought footballs to toss around and try to kick through the goal posts. Some brought baseball and gloves.

“You can’t be on Wrigley Field and not play baseball,” one man said as he played catch.
 
Cheri Leeds and Kim Fortner also ran around on the football field, which was built for Saturday’s Illinois-Northwestern game. They are both teachers in Chicago and attend about half of the Cubs’ home games. This was Fortner’s second time on Wrigley’s playing surface, but she’s never been on the field for baseball. She also took part in a public skate after Wrigley hosted an NHL game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings on New Year’s Day.

“I’m a diehard Cubs fan,” Fortner said.

On Monday, the grounds crew will get to work prepping the field for baseball and remove all of the sod, install a new infield and rebuild the pitcher’s mound. Opening Day is April 1.

– Carrie Muskat

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