MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Kyle Schwarber was among the position players who reported early to spring training after the Chicago Cubs missed the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
“It’s a tone setter for the season. I have no doubts that everyone is going to come in here hungry ready to go,” Schwarber said Wednesday when pitchers and catchers held their first formal workout. “We have to do things better, and I don’t think it’s a secret we have to do things better.”
Chicago won its first World Series title in 108 years in 2016, lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 NL Championship Series and lost to Colorado in the 2018 NL wild-card game. he Cubs faded to an 84-78 record and third-place finish in the NL Central.
Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward also were among the early arrivals ahead of Monday’s first full-squad workout.
“I would say there’s a new-found experience for the group as far as getting a taste of what it’s like to not get what you want to get as far as not getting into October,” Heyward said. “We have a great roster, a great group of guys. I think I’m excited about seeing what we can do as far as setting the tone for the new people coming along and form a new identity under each other.”
Chicago changed managers during the offseason, replacing Joe Maddon with David Ross.
“We have talent, but to be the best team, we have to take it to a new level,” Rizzo said.
Ross said all the early arrivals created an issue.
“I pulled in for the first time, and I almost couldn’t find a parking spot. I may be showing up late already as a manager. We have to get my own parking spot in my contract,” Ross said.
He hopes last year’s failure will be a motivation.
“There’s definitely a renewed energy around here. Guys are excited,” he said. “I think guys have enjoyed people counting them out. … I think they’re out to prove something in what I see in their eyes.”
IN THE BOOTH
Former first baseman Mark Grace will join Marquee Sports Network as an analyst and will start Feb. 22 during Chicago’s first spring training game, against Oakland.
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