Kaplan: Camp Sveum focused on fundamentals

683810.png

Kaplan: Camp Sveum focused on fundamentals

For the returning crop of Cubs, life under new Cubs manager Dale Sveum is radically different from Spring Training 2011 under former manager Mike Quade.

Under Quade, fundamentals were discussed and worked on but nowhere to the degree that they are at Camp Sveum. Besides the nearly camp long bunting tournament that saw everyone's pick to win it, Tony Campana knocked out in the first round, the coaching staff is harping on fundamentals to a degree never seen at a recent Cubs camp.

This morning is team photo day at Fitch Park with workouts starting at 9:30 am (AZ time). The most anticipated bunting match up of the tournament is on tap for this afternoon when Kerry Wood will battle Sveum.

I will also be starting a photo gallery of our week at spring training as our camera man Jason Dolan and I are here all week long. For those of you back in the Midwest we'll make sure to send back plenty of shots of the sunshine. Enjoy and I'll be back at you throughout the week as news happens.

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."