The Cubs officially activated outfielders Justin Ruggiano and Ryan Sweeney from the 60-day disabled list, which puts the 40-man roster at 37. Ruggiano was placed on the DL on Aug. 27 with a left ankle injury, and did not return. On the same day, Sweeney was placed on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain.
Why does Joe Maddon want to wear No. 70? He preferred No. 20, but lost that number when Don Sutton came to the Angels. Maddon was randomly assigned 70 at that time, and decided he wouldn’t change so his number would never be taken from him again.
Dan Vogelbach and Jacob Hannemann were a combined 0-for-5 in the Mesa Solar Sox’s 1-0 loss to Salt River in Arizona Fall League play Monday. Gerardo Concepcion took the loss, giving up one run on two hits in one inning. On Tuesday, the Solar Sox face the Rafters in Scottsdale. The game will be streamed on MLB.com, starting at 6:35 p.m. MT.
The Cubs may make some changes to the coaching staff now that Joe Maddon is the new manager. In early October, the team announced the staff but that was before Rick Renteria was dismissed and Maddon was hired.
“I would not expect significant turnover,” Theo Epstein said. “Joe has the right to bring people in if he wants to.”
Currently, the staff includes new hitting coach John Mallee, outfield/first base coach Doug Dascenzo, pitching coach Chris Bosio, bench coach Brandon Hyde, third base/infield coach Gary Jones, bullpen coach Lester Strode, catching coach Mike Borzello, assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske, and staff assistant Franklin Font.
– Carrie Muskat
On Monday, Joe Maddon became the 54th manager in Cubs history, signing a five-year, $25 million contract with the team. The two-time American League manager of the year held an entertaining introductory news conference at the Cubby Bear bar, a location made necessary because of the renovation work at Wrigley Field. Maddon was clearly excited about the opportunity and didn’t hide it.
“For me, I’m going to be talking playoffs next year,” Maddon said. “I’m going to tell you that right now. Because I can’t go to Spring Training and say any other thing. I’m just incapable of doing that. Why would you even report? It’s all about setting your standards and your goals high because if you don’t set them high enough you might actually hit your mark. We’re going to set our mark high and I’m going to talk playoffs and World Series this year and I’m going to believe it.”
Theo Epstein had interviewed Maddon for the Red Sox job in 2003, but did that at the Biltmore in Phoenix. Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer interviewed Maddon at an RV park in Pensacola, Fla., sitting in lawn chairs next to a lake.
“Comparing Joe now to when I interviewed him over a decade ago, he was always confident but it’s now reached a new level because he’s done it and it’s worked,” Epstein said. “Joe is a combination of just about everything we look for in a manager. Everyone associates him with new-school because they’ve used analytics in Tampa and he’s so open-minded and so progressive. But this is an old-school baseball guy with a wealth of knowledge. … It’s hard to find that. It’s hard to find old-school and new-school in the same package.”
Some highlights from Monday:
* He believes pre-game work is overrated, he likes the National League because of the “intellectual component,” and isn’t worried about curses. He is an avid bike rider, likes wine, and is about to open a restaurant in Tampa.
* He was impressed by the Cubs young talent during the Rays three-game Interleague series in August, which was an incentive to take the job.
* He was not aware of the opt-out clause in his contract until told, and decided to take advantage of the opportunity to be a free agent.
* He’s been called crazy. That’s OK. Can his unique style play in a big market like Chicago?
“We’re going to find out,” Maddon said. “Why would I ever want to change? Why would I ever want to do something that’s counter to my nature or personality? Why would I want to do that? It shouldn’t matter where you’re located. What matters is the consistency with which you approach the day and how you deal with people and how you build relationships. That’s important.”
* And, in a first for a Cubs manager, Maddon offered to buy everyone at the Cubby Bear a drink.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs and left-handed pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada agreed to a $4 million Major League contract for next season with the chance to earn an additional $2 million in incentives. Wada, 33, went 4-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 13 starts for the Cubs in 2014, his first Major League action. He had signed a Minor League deal with the Cubs last December, and opened the year at Triple-A Iowa, where he went 10-6 with a 2.77 ERA in 19 appearances (18 starts). He joined the Cubs rotation full time in late July.
Wada, who pitched nine years in Japan and was named Most Valuable Player in 2010, had signed with the Orioles in December 2011 but needed Tommy John surgery in May 2012. He did not reach the Major Leagues with the Orioles, making his debut with the Cubs on July 8 against the Reds.
– Carrie Muskat
With all of the construction at Wrigley Field, many fans who bought commemorative brick pavers were concerned about what happens to their bricks. Here is a letter the Cubs sent to those people (in case you didn’t get it):
“As a Wrigley Field personalized paver owner, we appreciate your support of the Chicago Cubs. As you are likely aware, work is now underway to restore and expand beautiful Wrigley Field.
“We are taking great care to preserve and protect your paver as work continues in and around the ballpark. As part of this process, your paver may need to be moved and will not be accessible during this offseason. We will provide you with an update closer to Opening Day.
“We appreciate your continued support and patience as we work to restore and expand Wrigley Field to provide better facilities for our players, more amenities for our fans and continued economic benefits to Chicago and the Lakeview community.”
Wrigley Field Paver Program
The Cubs will hold a news conference at the Cubby Bear across from Wrigley Field to introduce Joe Maddon as the 54th manager in franchise history. The news conference will begin at 2 p.m. CT and be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet Chicago. You also may be able to watch on MLB Network.
Joe Maddon’s agent says accusations that the Cubs are guilty of tampering is “insulting” and credited Theo Epstein for doing due diligence in making certain Maddon had exercised the opt-out clause in his contract before contacting him.
During an interview Sunday on MLB Network Radio, agent Alan Nero said the Cubs did not contact him about Maddon’s availability until the MLB commissioner’s office confirmed Maddon was available. Nero said he had heard from 10 different teams before the Cubs called, as well as media outlets interested in hiring Maddon for broadcast opportunities.
Maddon, who will be introduced on Monday as the Cubs’ 54th manager in franchise history, considered managing the Cubs a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” Nero said, and feels the move will help his charities in Tampa and Hazleton, Pa.
As for charges that the Cubs contacted Maddon before he had exercised the opt-out clause, Nero said those charges are “sad and a bit insulting.”
“Theo wouldn’t even talk until he had clearance from the commissioner’s office,” Nero told MLB Network Radio. “It’s silly to suggest that. If [the Rays] want to pursue that, that’s fine. It’s very unfortunate.”
Nero said they negotiated for five to six days with the Rays regarding an extension, but said it finally became apparent that was not going to happen. Did the Rays offer Maddon a new deal that would make him one of the top paid managers in the game? Nero said no, adding, “our proposals to them were under market value.”
– Carrie Muskat