Last week’s ‘polar vortex’ has left Chicago and the Midwest, thankfully… for now! Last Wednesday the swing between the Mesa, AZ high temperature and the Chicago low temp was over 90 degrees! Oddly enough, today’s projected high temperature in Chicago (50 degrees), will be only 5 degrees lower than the expected high temp in Mesa this Wednesday. What a difference a week makes.
At any rate, it’s been nice baseball weather in Mesa and the Cubs have their instructional league going on, which started January 7th. In case you aren’t familiar with the Cubs “instructs” as they are nicknamed, they have been in existence for over 50 years. Usually teams assign players with experience below the “Hi-A” level to Instructs, but sometimes older players will be assigned to work on certain aspects of their game, rehab from an injury, or in the past to prepare for the Arizona Fall League. If you really want to dig into the nitty gritty of the instructs, including who is on this years roster, you should read my friend Arizona Phil here.
The instructs have in the past been held in late September to early October, but the Cubs decided to move the instructional league to January this year. Reasoning for the move, players will be more rested than in the past, when they would have less than three weeks to recuperate after the regular season concludes in early September, and the information and instruction will now be more easily retained heading into spring training only a short time later.
The players probably enjoy the switch as well, because the Mesa weather in January is generally better than September. For instance, each of the four days from last September 26th to the 29th, reached 100 degrees in Mesa – hot. A few other Cubs you may be more familiar with were also working out last week, Ben Zobrist and David Bote.