Chicago Cubs

Cubs release spring training schedule, including trip to Vegas

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Cubs release spring training schedule, including trip to Vegas

The World Baseball Classic means the Cubs will have an extended stay in the desert. Pitchers and catchers will report to the teams Arizona complex in early February, and perhaps the extra time in Mesa will help a rebuilding team come together.

The spring training schedule released on Friday showed 17 home dates at HoHoKam Park, 16 Cactus League road games and a St. Patricks Day in Las Vegas.

The Cubs will open their schedule on Feb. 23 against the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe, and close it out on March 28 versus the Seattle Mariners. In between, they will play the Texas Rangers twice in Las Vegas (March 16-17).

The Cubs will see the White Sox twice next spring March 7 at HoHoKam Park and March 15 in Glendale.

Opening Day is April 1 at PNC Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Individual tickets for home games at HoHoKam Park can be purchased on Jan. 4 at cubs.com or by calling 1-800-905-3315. Heres the 2013 spring training schedule, with all games beginning at 1:05 p.m. Arizona time unless noted otherwise:

DateOpponentLocationFeb. 23
Los Angeles (AL)
TempeFeb. 24
San Francisco
MesaFeb. 25
Los Angeles (NL)
GlendaleFeb. 26
ColoradoMesaFeb. 27
Los Angeles (NL)
MesaFeb. 28
OaklandMesaMarch 1
ArizonaMesaMarch 2San Francisco
ScottsdaleMarch 3Milwaukee (ss)
MesaMarch 3
Los Angeles (ALss)
TempeMarch 4
ClevelandMesaMarch 5 ColoradoScottsdale (1:10 p.m.)
March 6
TexasSurpriseMarch 7
White Sox
MesaMarch 8CincinnatiGoodyear (7:05 p.m.)
March 9ClevelandMesaMarch 10San Diego
MesaMarch 11
ArizonaScottsdaleMarch 12
OFF DAY
March 13
ColoradoMesaMarch 14Los Angeles (NL)
GlendaleMarch 15
White Sox
Glendale (12:05 p.m.)
March 16
Kansas City (ss)
MesaMarch 16
Texas (ss)
Las Vegas (game time TBD)
March 17
Oakland (ss)
PhoenixMarch 17
Texas (ss)
Las Vegas (game time TBD)
March 18
San Diego
PeoriaMarch 19
TexasMesaMarch 20
OFF DAY
March 21
SeattlePeoriaMarch 22
MilwaukeeMaryvaleMarch 23
Los Angeles (AL)
MesaMarch 24
ClevelandGoodyearMarch 25
San Francisco
MesaMarch 26
CincinnatiMesa (7:05 p.m.)
March 27Kansas City
Surprise (6:05 p.m.)
March 28
SeattleMesa (12:05 p.m.)

Fuming over ninth-inning call, Joe Maddon is done with playing nice in MLB sandbox: ‘That’s asinine’

Fuming over ninth-inning call, Joe Maddon is done with playing nice in MLB sandbox: ‘That’s asinine’

A walk-off win in the middle of a pennant race didn’t dull the edge in Joe Maddon’s voice, the Cubs manager blasting Major League Baseball and expecting to be fined for his rant in the Wrigley Field interview room.    

“That’s asinine,” Maddon said after Wednesday night’s 7-6 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, fuming over the ninth-inning at-bat where Ben Zobrist showed bunt and got drilled by Wandy Peralta’s 96-mph fastball. Home plate umpire Ryan Blakney signaled for Zobrist to jog to first base, only to have first base umpire Chris Conroy call strike two.

“Listen, I don’t even know what to say about that call,” said Maddon, who stormed onto the field and got ejected for the second time this season. “We’ve had different things happen, and I’ve been playing really good in the sandbox. Really good. And I’m not right now. That call cannot be made under those circumstances.

“I can understand if the guy’s actually swinging, and all of a sudden you get like a check swing. But he’s bunting – and then trying to get out of the way – and you’re going to call a bunt?

“There’s no way any hitter under those circumstances – with the ball coming at his thigh – is going to bunt through it and then get hit in the thigh.

“That really almost did cost us the game. Fortunately, we came back, they made their wild pitch. But I’ve been playing good in the sandbox. That was wrong.”

Zobrist – who called for an electronic strike zone after watching a controversial strike three end Saturday’s loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field – still managed to put the ball in play, move up Javier Baez and Jon Jay and keep the pressure on the last-place Reds.  

“I tried to pull the bat back, but there was nowhere for me to go,” Zobrist said. “It started right at me, and was going down towards my ankle, and I could not physically pull it back and still pull my ankle up at the same time. I tried to pull my ankle up and (Conroy) thought I was offering at it, apparently.”

Imagine the reaction if the Cubs hadn’t regrouped and maintained a 1.5-game lead on the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.

“I know that instant replay is not perfect,” Maddon said. “But all this little minutia needs to be looked at as we move this along, because that impacted the game. That’s bases loaded, nobody out. It’s a different at-bat for (Albert) Almora. It’s a different thought for their pitcher. Everything’s different. The world rotates differently at that point.

“To influence a game like that is wrong. And, listen, the guy’s a good guy. I think he’s a good umpire. But I’m not going to concede consistently to these guys. You can’t make that mistake.”

The evolution of Kris Bryant and why Joey Votto became his favorite player

The evolution of Kris Bryant and why Joey Votto became his favorite player

Kris Bryant already has a bromance with Anthony Rizzo, their Bryzzo Souvenir Co. brand and a joint appearance at a downtown Chicago hotel this weekend where Cubs fans can pay $699 for their autographs.

Bryant also has a friendly rivalry with Bryce Harper, the Washington Nationals superstar who loves trolling on social media and teasing where he might land as a free agent after the 2018 season. Even their wives had fun with it on Instagram earlier this month when the Nationals came to Wrigley Field for a potential playoff preview.

But the player Bryant patterns himself after now – the one who lives up to “The Science of Hitting” and the principles his father absorbed from Ted Williams and passed down in the family’s batting cage in Las Vegas – is Joey Votto.

“He’s the best player ever,” Bryant said before Wednesday night’s 7-6 walk-off win over the Cincinnati Reds. “He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain.

“He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Favorite player? Really?

“Besides, you know, people on my team,” Bryant said with a laugh.

The Cubs contained Votto on a night where their bullpen nearly imploded, holding him to a 1-for-4 that stopped him from tying the major-league record Williams set in 1948 by getting on base at least twice in 21 straight games with the Boston Red Sox.

Through Votto, Bryant sees where he can grow after becoming a National League Rookie of the Year and MVP and World Series champion before his 25th birthday.    

“He’s not just doing it this year – he’s doing it his whole career,” Bryant said. “He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant – who has reached base safely in his last 13 games and put up a 1.035 OPS in August – is heating up at a time when the Cubs are trying to fend off the Milwaukee Brewers (1.5 games back) and St. Louis Cardinals (2.5 games back) in a tight division race.

Where Votto famously dismissed old questions about whether or not he was being too selective, Bryant blocks out any talk about an All-Star snub, his batting average with runners in scoring position (.227) or RBI total (54). Bryant is getting on base more than 40 percent of the time and also leads the team in doubles (25), runs scored (78) and OPS (.936).  

“Sometimes it’s almost like you can kind of go up there and force the pitcher to throw the pitch that you want, just by taking pitches,” Bryant said. “My first year, I was kind of just up there swinging at everything. I still felt the approach was good and it could work in the big leagues. And it did. But I think there’s ways to have a better approach up there.

“(Votto’s) a different guy with that. I feel like he’s aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it. And he mentioned that to me, too, when I got to first (on Monday night). He said: ‘Your approach looks a lot better this year.’”

Bryant sincerely thanked Votto, but the reigning MVP isn’t trying to put together a package deal with Harper and turn the Cubs into Major League Baseball’s version of the Golden State Warriors.  

“I already told him before: ‘We already have a pretty good first baseman. He’s not going anywhere,’” Bryant said. “Joey can switch positions if he wants to play for the Cubs.”