The Rundown: Spring Training Begins Today, Kevin Youkilis Hired as Special Assistant, Cole Hamels Wants Out of Philly

Last Oct. 29, the Giants defeated the Royals in an outstanding World Series Game 7 and baseball ended for the year.

But now, after an exciting and improbable offseason for the Cubs, it’s back. Well, sort of.

Spring Training officially begins today, as Cubs pitchers and catchers are due to report. The full squad is due Feb. 24.

Games don’t start until March 5, and we won’t get to follow updates on a bunting tournament anytime soon, but that’s OK. Today is my unofficial first day of spring. Let’s appreciate that.


The Cubs have brought on former Red Sox and White Sox (totally forgot he played on the South Side) player Kevin Youkilis to be a special assistant.

Labeled as the “Greek God of Walks” in Michael Lewis’ book “Moneyball,” Youkilis could be asked to help improve on a .300 on-base percentage from the Cubs last year, which put them at 28th out of 30 teams.

I like the move. Another Boston connection that can help explain to Cubs players what it takes to win a championship.

Other notes

* A ruling is expected today on yesterday’s hearing to decide whether the Cubs should be temporarily banned from constructing video boards and signage, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Two rooftop buildings on Sheffield are seeking a temporary restraining order to halt the construction until a broader hearing takes place next month. Even if the order is denied today, the full issue won’t be completely resolved.

* LHP Cole Hamels just wants to win and he knows it’s not going to happen with the Phillies, he told Bob Nightengale. So Hamels wants out of Philadelphia, and we know the Phillies are trying to trade him but want a strong return. Will Hamels’ voiced displeasure cause the Phillies to lower their asking price to expedite a trade? If so, maybe we see the Cubs pop back into the picture.

* Carrie Muskat and Jesse Rogers outline their most pressing Cubs questions leading up to Spring Training. Among them: What will happen with the three-catcher situation? Will Mike Olt get the Opening Day nod at third? Has Javier Baez made adjustments at the plate? Can Jake Arrieta repeat his performance from last year? And many more. There’ll be loads of story lines to follow this spring.

* In an article from Patrick Mooney on the Cubs’ new manager’s expectations for the upcoming season, I really got a kick out of this quote from Joe Maddon: “I promise you the music’s going to be loud coming out of my office every day. I don’t do anything without putting the music on first. That’s it. You gain your inspiration, and the music makes everything else happens.” The more I learn about Maddon, the more I like him.

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