Mooney: Byrd-Conte connection bothers Selig

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Mooney: Byrd-Conte connection bothers Selig

Saturday, March 5, 2011
Posted: 6:51 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. Marlon Byrd has been upfront about his relationship with Victor Conte, the man behind Barry Bonds and BALCO.

Byrd recently sat down with HBOs Real Sports to explain how he trains with and takes supplements from Conte. The Cubs outfielder also addressed it at length at the beginning of spring training.

The connection bothers Bud Selig, whose legacy as baseballs commissioner is shaped in part by the steroid era.

Weve talked to him, Selig said Saturday at HoHoKam Park. He knows how we feel and its not a situation that makes me very happy.

For Byrd the only player believed to still work with Conte its a non-issue. He trusts Conte and thinks hes the best in the business.

We talked about it in 2009, Byrd said. Its 2011.

Labor peace

In reality, with a collective bargaining agreement set to expire at years end, Selig has bigger problems to worry about. While the NFL works to avoid a lockout, Selig has already met with union leadership and has another session scheduled for next week in Arizona.

Were starting to work quietly and peacefully, Selig said. There used to be a lot of public statements and people banging on each other. While negotiations will be tough and well have difference of opinion, well do it in a constructive manner.

Selig said that Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has met extensively with Major League Baseball about renovating Wrigley Field, but he wouldnt reveal any details about those plans.

The Cubs are also preparing to build a new facility in Mesa that could leave HoHoKam and Fitch parks empty by 2014. Selig does not foresee a team moving from Florida to Arizona for spring training.

While there has been speculation that troubled franchises like Tampa Bay and Oakland could be contracted, Selig said the idea hasnt been discussed yet. Hes optimistic about this round of negotiations.

There was so much anger and so much hostility, Selig said, but those days are gone. Other sports now, in some cases, are feeling what we felt in the 1990s. Its painful.
Cease-fire

The pressure that overwhelmed Carlos Silva hasnt touched Randy Wells, who threw three innings during Saturdays 9-4 win over the San Diego Padres. Wells hasnt allowed an earned run in his first five innings this spring.

You cant really control it, Wells said. Either youre going to make the team, or Ill be at Triple-A I got options left. The way Im looking at it is: Yeah, it would suck to go to Triple-A, but there are worse things. I still got a job.

Seriouslyafter a down year and having to fight for a rotation spot, it puts things in perspective.

The Cubs are trying to do the same with Wednesdays dugout dispute between Silva and Aramis Ramirez.

Thats in the past, Alfonso Soriano said. Nobody talks about it anymore. They are grown men. They talked and they know (they) made mistakes. They go from there. The most important (thing) for everybody here is to start playing better and get ready for the season.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

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.’”