According to Baseball America, the Cubs rank eighth among Major League teams with an international bonus pool of $2,230,700. The 2015-16 signing period begins July 2. The bonus pools are determined based on reverse order of winning percentage from 2014. The majority of signings come from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. In 2013, the Cubs spent heavily on international players, signing the Nos. 1-2 prospects, Eloy Jimenez ($2.8 million) and Gleyber Torres ($1.7 million).
Here’s Friday’s practice schedule for the Cubs. All times are Mountain Time. Remember, it is subject to change:
9:45 a.m.: Stretch
10-10:15 a.m.: Baserunning for position players
10:20-10:30 a.m.: Throwing program (all players)
10:30-10:45 a.m.: Individual defense
10:45-11 a.m.: Team fundamental (pop ups)
11 a.m.-12:05 p.m.: Live BP, Fields 5/6
12:10-12:30 p.m. Batting practice, Fields 3/4/5/6
12:35-12:45 p.m.: First and third defense
Ernie Banks used to come up with a saying every year for the Cubs. This season, manager Joe Maddon’s message has been painted along the first base line of Field 1 at the Cubs complex: Respect 90.
Last Dec. 3, Maddon posted it on his Twitter account @CubsJoeMadd: “Respect 90 … going to make daily push for our players to respect that distance .. run hard for 90 feet, and the respect will come back to you.” It’s also on his Twitter profile. And the Cubs players will see it on other fields as well. It’s something he wants ingrained in their minds.
“It really is the message I want to get out there,” Maddon said. “I believe if we respect that 90 feet every day, a lot of good things are going to happen here.”
Maddon had not used “Respect 90″ while with the Rays but would have done so this year if he had stayed. He’s had other sayings in Tampa Bay, such as “nine equals eight.”
“I guess Mr. Banks used to do it also,” Maddon said. “This was more of an organic moment. I thought of it one day and said, ‘God, I really like that.'”
– Carrie Muskat
* Javier Baez, Mike Olt and Jorge Soler will be the first to take some swings against new Cubs pitcher Jon Lester, who was scheduled to throw his first live batting practice session on Friday. Lester, Hector Rondon, Zac Rosscup, Brian Schlitter, Pedro Strop, Drake Britton, Corey Black, and Pierce Johnson are scheduled for live batting practice.
Manager Joe Maddon is still in the early phases of evaluating the roster this spring.
“I don’t really read into too many things,” he said. “I’m just watching.”
* Former Cubs outfielder Dave Martinez was the only coach Maddon was able to add to his staff, and having the familiarity has helped. Martinez was Maddon’s bench coach with the Rays for seven seasons.
“It’s very fortunate that we did [add Martinez] and it’s even more obvious to me now,” Maddon said. “People talked about it, and you need to bring somebody with you. Davey is the perfect fit and it really helps me daily because he brings a lot of the message to the guys.”
Of course, when Martinez played for the Cubs, they held Spring Training at Fitch Park. Still, the uniform hasn’t changed much or the fans.
“He feels like he’s home a little bit, too,” Maddon said.
* Maddon was pleased with the energy and execution during bunt drills Thursday.
“I told the boys afterword, ‘That’s pro, and if we can do that 99 percent of the time, we’ll be OK,'” he said.
* How does Maddon relax at the end of the day? He’s been catching up on some television shows, such as “The Office” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
“I’d rather go to sleep watching something funny than something way too serious,” he said. “I prefer a comedy to go to sleep with and [‘The Office’] is my favorite.”
– Carrie Muskat
Thursday will be Day 2 for the Cubs full squad workout. Among the pitchers scheduled to throw live batting practice are C.J. Edwards, Blake Parker, Anthony Carter, Donn Roach, Neil Ramirez, Joseph Ortiz, Francisley Bueno and Gonzalez Germen.
Jon Lester is expected to throw his first live BP session on Friday. He had an early bullpen session Thursday.
The music was loud Wednesday for the Cubs’ first full squad workout, and included “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen. It was time to get to work under new manager Joe Maddon.
“I’ve always liked music during batting practice,” Maddon said. “When you go to complex baseball and you’re out in the middle of nowhere and it gets really quiet, crickets and all that kind of stuff, I like when it’s really loud.”
Maddon picked the tunes for Wednesday. He hinted that others might get a chance.
“I think the first thing out of the chute in the morning, get the blood flow going, and it seems to have helped,” Maddon said. “I was told the speaker system was really good in the complex and they’re right.”
Maddon noted a good energy on the first day, which included Jake Arrieta, Jason Motte, Edwin Jackson, Justin Grimm, Felix Doubront and Jacob Turner throwing live batting practice.
* What did Maddon want the players to remember from his first workout speech?
“The one thing, more than anything, is that I want them to be themselves,” he said. “I don’t want them to feel inhibited when they play. I don’t want them to feel as though they’re out there to please. Don’t worry about making mistakes — you’re going to make mistakes, physical mistakes. We want to cut down on the mental mistakes.”
* Tommy La Stella took grounders at third base along with Mike Olt. La Stella has never played third in professional baseball but was told when he signed with the Cubs that he may get a chance there. Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez took grounders at second.
* Maddon said players can expect some different drills this spring. He likes to have hitters use heavier bats, say 35-36 ounces and 34-35 inches long to help promote the utilization of their hands. Maddon also complimented outfield coach Doug Dascenzo on his drills, saying they reminded him of what he saw with former coach Sam Suplizio, who passed away in 2006.
* C.J. Edwards, Blake Parker, Anthony Carter, Donn Roach, Neil Ramirez, Joseph Ortiz, Francisley Bueno and Germen Gonzalez were scheduled to throw live batting practice on Thursday.
– Carrie Muskat