Cubs completely redo Wrigley playing surface

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Cubs completely redo Wrigley playing surface

During the 2012 season several Cubs players voiced their complaints about the Wrigley Field playing surface, with one player calling it by far the worst in the major leagues."

That led to Cubs management doing an extensive study on every field in baseball and the amount of time that each field is used for non-baseball activities, which can cause considerable wear and tear on the playing surface.

At the conclusion of the 2012 season the decision was made to completely remove the current field and replace it with all new sod and dirt to bring the field up to a more acceptable level for the players.

In addition, the Cubs are expected to curtail the number of activities that are held at Wrigley starting with the 2013 season. From concerts to soccer games to corporate events, the field has gotten more play and more use than any other baseball only stadium in the sport.

When Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney was informed on Tuesday that the Cubs had decided to completely replace the playing field at Wrigley Field, he was quick to praise the team's ground crew who labored day and night to make the old surface playable.

"Our grounds crew did an amazing job trying to keep the playing surface in as good a shape as possible. However, when you have as many events going on as they do at Wrigley from concerts to corporate events it is very hard to maintain," Barney told CSNChicago.com.

At a cost of 400,000 the Cubs elected to completely tear out the old grass and dirt and replace it with a new blend of dirt and a Kentucky Bluegrass that was trucked in from Colorado. The sod is the exact same that was recently installed at Busch Stadium in St. Louis when the Cardinals replaced their outfield.

Barney, who is currently hard at work along with center fielder Brett Jackson with the Cubs hitting coaches in Arizona, is excited to get back to playing at the Friendly Confines.

"My teammates and I are excited to play on a new and improved playing surface at the greatest ballpark in baseball. It is great to see that our front office is doing all they can to make our field the best in the game."

Wrigley Field's infield was improved when a new drainage system was put in place a few years ago, and the crown was removed. Barney said he wanted to make it clear that the Wrigley grounds crew was not to blame for the hard field, but pointed to all the events that take place at the ballpark, specifically mentioning the concerts.

"It's hard on them to get this thing ready to play every day," he said. "They work really hard to do that. The truth is, it is that field that people say (bad things) about. But it's your baby. You've got to say it's the best field you've ever been on and just go from there."

Watch, listen to "Reign Men: The Story behind Game 7 of the 2016 World Series"

Watch, listen to "Reign Men: The Story behind Game 7 of the 2016 World Series"

Watch the incredible story of World Series Game 7 now. 

"Reign Men: The Story behind Game 7 of the 2016 World Series" tells the story behind the Cubs finally ending "the curse." Through exclusive interview footage, country music star Brett Eldredge narrates what could be labeled the greatest Game 7 in professional sports history. 

Catch the online version in the video above. Note that because of MLB rules, no highlight footage can be shown on the online version. 

If you prefer, an audio version. Check out the podcast below. 

Cubs will have Ian Happ one phone call away at Triple-A Iowa

Cubs will have Ian Happ one phone call away at Triple-A Iowa

MESA, Ariz. – After an impressive camp where he looked like the next homegrown Cubs hitter to roll off the assembly line, Ian Happ will go to Triple-A Iowa and get ready to make his big-league debut, or perhaps build his value for a trade-deadline deal.

Along with Happ, the Cubs assigned outfielder John Andreoli and catcher Taylor Davis to minor-league camp on Monday while optioning pitchers Eddie Butler and Rob Zastryzny to Iowa, cutting their roster to 31 as the Opening Night picture comes into focus.

Happ – the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft out of the University of Cincinnati – batted .417 with five homers, four doubles and 17 RBI in 24 Cactus League games.

"Offensively, what was there not to like?" general manager Jed Hoyer said. "I feel like he hit the ball hard every at-bat for six weeks. It's always fun to see a young guy like that come in and open a lot of eyes."

Happ, 22, is a switch-hitter who can play second base and the outfield, skills that could help him escape from Des Moines once the need arises on the major-league level.

[MORE CUBS: How Cubs came to fully believe in the legend of Kyle Schwarber]

Though there are questions about Happ's defense, Theo Epstein's front office and Joe Maddon's coaching staff clearly value versatility and trust young talent, moving Addison Russell to shortstop in 2015 and elevating rookie catcher Willson Contreras last season.

Stay tuned to see when/if the Cubs will have a spot at Wrigley Field, but Happ looks like he will be on a fast track.

"Whenever you're in Triple-A, you're always a call away," Hoyer said. "Sometimes it happens quicker than you think. We never expected Addie would be up in April of that year, and he was. I feel like with Willson last year, if you had asked me in spring training – would he be up in June? – I probably would have thought it would be more like a September call-up or something like that.

"You never know. Things happen. When you have good players in the minor leagues, sometimes it speeds up on you a little bit."