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Scenes from Spring Training: Wake me up when Kerry Wood comes in

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I’m not gonna lie to you: it was not the most riveting day at the ballpark.  Low energy game and a low energy crowd. It happens.  Random notes:

The Cubs took the field wearing their full-blown home whites with pinstripes. LOVED it. I’m not a big fan of the lazy looking spring training warmups some of these teams wear. Wanna be professional? Look professional.  Says the jeans-and-untucked-shirt-wearing sports writer.

Also: pitchers batted today. No DH sullying the proceedings. Excellent.

The Cubs played sloppy defense. Three errors as I type this, and the game is still going.  Some nice leather from an unexpected source, however: Ryan Braun.  In the first inning he ranged far to his right to snag a sinking line drive that would have dropped in front of a lot of guys. Then, a couple of batters later he gunned down Reed Johnson who was trying to tag up from third. Braun with the defense. Who knew?

Cubs GM Jim Hendry sauntered into the press box around the third inning and just sort of hung out for a bit.  I’ve been to about 12 spring training games between this year and last year and that’s the first time a GM has just bopped around like that. Fun fact: the number one rule of the press box is that you’re not allowed to cheer.  That rule does not apply to the guy who runs one of the teams involved. It made me quite happy, actually, that Hendry cheers and roots like some regular fan.

By dint of the Brewers playing the Cubs, this was easily the most Midwestern Day of spring training thus far.  Lots of Big Ten sweatshirts in the crowd. Lots of guys who looked like this.  I almost felt like I was at home.

Except that I would never, ever be allowed to eat that hellacious creation to the left if I were at home. My wife is gonna kill me. If my diet doesn’t kill me first.

HoHoKam Stadium features organ music. Honest to goodness organ music, not piped in rock or pop.  This gave me a happy.

I wandered the crowd during the fifth and sixth innings. There was a vendor yelling “Lemonade, lemonade, just like grandma made!”  I’m sure he’s not the only lemonade vendor on the planet that uses that one, but I liked it.  Another vendor yelled “Old Style! Ice-cold Old Style!” in an extreme Barry White basso profundo. Imagine my surprise, then, when I got a look at him and saw that he was a skinny white blond kid in his mid-20s.

Kerry Wood came into the game to pitch the top of the sixth. He got a standing ovation. A bigger round of applause than the team got taking the field to start the game. Too bad he gave up two runs on three hits and a wild pitch in his inning of work.

Late game substitutions for the Brewers: Cutter Dykstra, son of Lenny. He’s someone I’m rooting for.  Also in the game: number 94.  When he was announced no one in the press box could figure out who he was because his name wasn’t listed on the roster.  Finally someone figured out it was Reggie Keen. With a number that high and a name that hard to find, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that he doesn’t make the 25-man out of camp.

Oh, and when Keen came up to bat in the eighth he was wielding a skinny orange bat that looked like a fungo. He cracked it on a foul ball and substituted it with a new one that looked far more normal. Then he walked.

It’s 5-3 in the top of the eighth now, Keen on first and nobody out. I could wait until it’s officially over to post this update, but I’m guessing nothing terribly notable is going down.  I’ll stay here and watch it anyway. Wouldn’t you?

I was originally planning on seeing the White Sox tomorrow, but I may kick them until Thursday because they’re playing the Brewers tomorrow and I kind of want to see as many different teams as possible.  As I sit here, I’m thinking — surprise! — it will be Padres-Royals instead.

Seriously: the Royals play in Surprise so even if you weren’t expecting anything it is, technically speaking, a Surprise.

Chapman has trouble remembering convo with Cubs management about off-field behavior

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CHICAGO — Star closer Aroldis Chapman joined the Cubs on Tuesday, arriving to a mixed reaction in Chicago and saying he couldn’t remember what management told him about off-field expectations and behavior.

After Chapman’s awkward introductory news conference, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein insisted Chapman understands what the Cubs expect of him after an offseason domestic violence incident.

When the Cubs announced the trade with the New York Yankees on Monday, the team released a statement from Chairman Tom Ricketts saying they were aware of his 29-game suspension to begin the season under Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy.

Ricketts said he and Epstein talked by phone with Chapman before the deal was completed and “shared with him the high expectations we set for our players,” adding that Chapman was “comfortable” with them.

But when asked repeatedly about that phone conversation before Tuesday’s game against the crosstown White Sox, Chapman said through an interpreter that he couldn’t recall details because he was taking a nap at the time the call came in.

The question was asked several more times. A Cubs spokesman once asked the question himself to the interpreter, coach Henry Blanco.

“It’s been a long day,” Chapman said. “Trying to remember.”

Asked again several minutes later during the group interview if he could now remember what Ricketts said, Chapman shook his head.

“I still don’t remember,” he said in Spanish.

Epstein called it a misunderstanding and that Chapman was “pretty nervous” as he faced seven cameras and more than two dozen reporters.

“I was on the call, Tom was on the call, Aroldis was on the call and Barry Praver, his agent, was on the call. It happened and it was real,” Epstein said before the Cubs’ 3-0 loss to the White Sox.

Chapman was accused of choking his girlfriend and firing eight gunshots in the garage of a Florida home in October. The woman later changed her story and no charges were filed.

“You learn from the mistakes that you make,” Chapman said.

The case caused the Los Angeles Dodgers to back out of an offseason trade for Chapman. Cincinnati eventually traded him to the Yankees, and after his suspension, the 28-year-old Cuban converted 20 of 21 save chances for New York.

The Cubs have long boasted of stocking their roster with high-character players, helping earn the “lovable losers” label they’ve carried for decades since their last World Series title in 1908.

But the Cubs (59-40) have retooled their roster under Epstein and have the best record in the major leagues despite Tuesday’s loss in which Chapman didn’t pitch. Chapman, who threw a 105 mph fastball last week, fills perhaps the team’s largest hole as he replaces Hector Rondon as closer.

The Cubs sent four players to the Yankees, including shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, to get one of the game’s top relievers. Epstein said they wouldn’t have made the deal if not for the phone call he and Ricketts had with Chapman.

“Tom laid out the exact same standards that he lays out to everyone in spring training,” Epstein said. “He said, extremely clearly, `Look, Aroldis, I tell all the players this in spring training and it’s important you hear it and I need to hear from you on this. We expect our players to behave. We hold our players to a very high standard for their behavior off the field. And we need to know you can meet that standard.’

“Aroldis said `I understand. Absolutely, I can.'”

The Cubs activated Chapman before Tuesday’s game and designated left-hander Clayton Richard for assignment.

Reaction to Chapman’s acquisition in Chicago has been tepid. While there were supportive fans on talk radio, the Chicago Tribune carried a front-page column Tuesday criticizing the move. The back of the Chicago Sun-Times tabloid read “Spin City” over a picture of Epstein.

Chapman said he expected a “good reaction” from Cubs fans. He was also asked during the 20-minute meeting with reporters in the visiting dugout at U.S. Cellular Field if we would consider working with organizations looking to prevent domestic violence. Chapman said no.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon defended Chapman.

“He did do a suspension, he has talked about it, he’s shown remorse,” Maddon said. “Everybody else has the right to judge him as a good or bad person. That’s your right.

I want to get to know Aroldis. I think he could be a very significant member and he’s got the potential, yes, to throw the last out of the World Series. And if he does, I promise you I will embrace him.”

Report: Padres working on trading Andrew Cashner

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 21: Starter Derek Norris #3 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Busch Stadium on July 21, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports and MLB Network reports that the Padres are working to trade starter Andrew Cashner. He notes that a deal may be consummated before he takes the hill for Tuesday’s start in Toronto against the Blue Jays. The Marlins, Orioles, and Rangers have had reported interest in Cashner.

Cashner is 4-7 with a 4.79 ERA and a 61/27 K/BB ratio in 73 1/3 innings. He missed over three weeks between June 11 and July 2 due to a strained neck.

The right-hander is earning $9.625 million this season and will be eligible for free agency after the season.