What a fabulous day to begin official workouts for the Cubs pitchers and catchers, sunshine and temperatures in the 60′s during practice. Fitch Park is a great venue to see the Cubs, 4 ball fields with a central area where fans can easily walk from field to field following favorite players as they move through drills. It’s a very intimate environment, probably too intimate for players sometimes as they have to use the available public restroom or make a much longer trek back to the clubhouse. Of course one of the best parts of watching the Cubs at Fitch Park is it’s free!
I know it’s early in camp, in fact so early that position players don’t have to report until next week. However as I tweeted today: I’m getting a very good feeling about Marlon Byrd. Not going to make any predictions just yet on how he’ll do this season but it’s just a positive gut feeling after watching him for about 4 days now. Byrd looks to be in phenomenal shape and last year at 30 years old he doubled his previous career season high HR total from 10 to 20….He definitely has the build of a power hitter. Byrd and new Cubs hitting Coach Rudy Jaramillo where together at Texas and during his 3 seasons with the Rangers, Byrd never hit lower than .283.
One of the important things that need to be accomplished in camp is getting the pitchers arms and legs in shape. In the early stages it’s more about the legs and the pitchers did a lot of running today closing out practice…many laps on the warning track from foul pole to foul pole, followed by short drill runs. The day had warmed up by this time and I was standing by the players as the finished some of these runs…I can tell you that while certain guys are in better shape than others most of them were really feeling the intensity of it. That of course is a good thing right now.
After bp towards the end of practice new hitting instructor Rudy Jaramillo called the position players together and gave them his run down on the 5 steps to effective hitting.. All the guys seemed very focused and attentive on what he was saying and as Rudy finished he said “I’m going to over and over this stuff”. Then closed by telling the guys he’s always available if they ever have any questions. I think Jaramillo is going to be a great addition to the Cubs staff.
I met many cool Cubs fans at Fitch today including Dan and his dad Garth originally from Iowa, Dave Bell from Watseka, IL and Elan Kane and his family who are here from New York and Palm Springs. To my surprise Elan said he reads my blog and had even seen my tweet from this morning about coming to the ballpark. During today’s practice I saw Ryan Dempster toss a ball over the fence to a fan, I found out later that fan was Elan. That’s a sweet souvie for a Cubs fan to take back to New York.
Enjoy today’s BOS pics.
The SW Fitch field as it looked this morning before practice
John Gaub looks on
Cubs first round pick in 2008 Andrew Cashner
Hall of Famer Billy Williams watches bp
Gorzelanny, Dempster, and Mitch Atkins
Dempster and Atkins starting to feel it
David Patton definitely feeling it