Cubs aren’t overreacting to Hector Rondon’s performance in World Baseball Classic

Cubs aren’t overreacting to Hector Rondon’s performance in World Baseball Classic

MESA, Ariz. – This won’t be the mantra printed across Joe Maddon’s next line of T-shirts – or on any of the yoga gear sold in the pop-up shops directly outside the Cubs clubhouse here – but it summed up Hector Rondon’s performance with Team Venezuela: "F--- it, it is what it is." 

Overall, Rondon still appreciated the opportunity to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, even though he experienced a meltdown against Team USA and the Venezuelans didn’t advance to the semifinals at Dodger Stadium.

"Any time you go to represent your country and be there for those fans, it’s fun," Rondon said Sunday, returning to the Sloan Park complex with a positive attitude. "I know I had a bad outing that day. I enjoyed playing with those guys."

Rondon couldn’t protect a one-run, eighth-inning lead last week in San Diego, giving up home runs to Adam Jones and Eric Hosmer as the Americans rallied for a 4-2 win at Petco Park and eventually escaped the second round of the international showcase.

Rondon got five outs for Team Venezuela, giving up five runs on seven hits and two walks in two appearances combined.

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"Everything is working good, my arm, my velocity," Rondon said. "I just missed a couple pitches, and that’s it.

"Those hitters are really good and they know me. I don’t know that much about them, but now I know. I’m really happy. I know I didn’t have the success that I wanted there, but still in my heart and my mind, I’m really happy."
 
This will be magnified with Rondon after the Cubs traded for Aroldis Chapman and Wade Davis and Maddon bumped his ex-closer from the circle of trust during last year’s World Series run. 

The Cubs still believe Rondon is healthy and ready to contribute to what should be a lights-out bullpen.  

"He said he feels great, and that’s all I want to hear," Maddon said. "We’ll fine-tune the location of his pitches, because the other day he said he had great stuff. It was just in a bad spot, (and) he knows that, so he’s very accountable about the other night. He feels like he knows what he needs to do to fix it. I love that. I like the upbeat nature."

Saturday on CSN: Kyle Hendricks, Cubs face Reds

Saturday on CSN: Kyle Hendricks, Cubs face Reds

The Cubs face off against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, and you can catch all the cation on CSN. Coverage begins at 3:00 p.m.

Starting pitching matchup: Kyle Hendricks vs. Robert Stephenson

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World Series thank-yous follow Kris Bryant to Las Vegas

World Series thank-yous follow Kris Bryant to Las Vegas

MESA, Ariz. – Kris Bryant didn’t need to pose for a Crate & Barrel billboard in Wrigleyville or walk a goat around a Bed Bath & Beyond commercial shoot. Cub fans just kept sending him free stuff.

The wedding gifts actually shipped to his parents’ house in Las Vegas, where he honed the swing that landed him on a new Sports Illustrated cover that asked: “How Perfect is Kris Bryant?”   

This happens when you mention your registries on a late-night show with another Vegas guy (Jimmy Kimmel) after leading an iconic franchise to its first World Series title in 108 years.        

So Bryant will be the center of attention in Sin City this weekend when the Cubs play two split-squad games against the Cincinnati Reds. But that spotlight will pretty much follow the National League’s reigning MVP wherever he goes. 

At least this gives Bryant a chance to chill at the pool and organize the house he moved into in January. 

“My mom just kept throwing stuff in my car: ‘Here, take it!’” Bryant said. “Opening all those boxes, I can’t believe how many presents we got from fans. It was unbelievable. Jess is going to have to write all the thank-you notes. I’m just signing my name on them. You have literally like 700 thank-you notes to write.

“I said: ‘You need to just go get the generic thank-you.’ She’s like: ‘No, they took the time out of their day to buy us a present.’ This is going to take her the whole year. So if there’s anybody out there that’s waiting for one…”    

The wait is finally over for generations of Cub fans. Spring training will always have a “Groundhog Day” element to it. But this camp – with no major injuries so far or real roster intrigue or truly wacky stunts – has felt different. As the players get ready for a new season – one without 1908 looming over everything – they can’t escape what they did. 

“Every day something reminds me of it,” said Kyle Hendricks, who will start Saturday in Las Vegas. “Even going to throw in these spring games, when they announce your name and the whole crowd erupts because of the World Series. That wasn’t happening last year. 

“Little things like that make me notice. Something every day is brought to my attention, so it’s still getting used to that part.”  

The Cubs insist there won’t be a hangover effect in 2017, believing that this young group is too talented and too focused to get derailed by distractions and overconfidence. But the Cubs could go 0-162 this season and Bryant would still probably be breaking down boxes for recycling.   

“It’s funny,” Bryant said. “We just put cameras on my house for security and I’ll just look at it sometimes. I’ll randomly see my mom just unloading boxes. I’m like: ‘Mom, what’s going on? Are we getting more stuff?’ She’s like: ‘Yeah, we keep getting more boxes.’”