Stuck between Iowa and Wrigley Field

Stuck between Iowa and Wrigley Field

Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010
8:56 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Once the Cubs promoted Bobby Scales from Triple-A Iowa on Sept. 7, general manager Jim Hendry mentioned a running joke that he has with Oneri Fleita, the vice president of player personnel: Whenever Scales is done playing, lets try to make him an employee.

Scales, who will be 33 next month, attended the University of Michigan. Hes bright, articulate and doesnt want this to be taken the wrong way. But hes not interested at least not yet in being an asset to the front office.

The main reason I havent really thought about it is because I still feel like I can play, Scales said.

As Hendry interviews Ryne Sandberg this week in Arizona and Mike Quade continues with his 37-game audition as manager the Cubs are focusing on their in-house options. Whoever gets the job will need a strong background in player development, because this figures to be a younger roster in the years ahead.

Brad Snyder, another September call-up, hit 25 homers and drove in 106 runs this season for Sandberg in Des Moines, and described his style as subtle.

He didnt blow you up, Snyder said. As long as everythings fine (in) the clubhouse, (then) he wont say much. But if something needs to be addressed, hell nip it in the bud right away. We had a great team he didnt have to say much.

Managing Triple-A players is different because theyre not all kids. Quade said the constant roster changes help you adapt quickly and learn to deal with different personalities. The experience has surely helped Sandberg, wherever he manages next.

The Cleveland Indians chose Snyder in the first round of the 2003 draft out of Ball State University. There were injuries that slowed his development a broken thumb in 2007 and a sprained wrist two years later and he found himself listening to too many voices.

It seemed everyone in the Indians system had an opinion on what he should do with his swing. This marked his fourth consecutive season at the Triple-A level and he posted a .949 OPS. At the age of 28, he made his big-league debut on Sept. 7.

Its like, (Expletive), if I dont start doing something, Im going to be out of this game sooner than I want to be, Snyder said. I dont want to say I turned the switch on. But I basically focused a lot more on what I was doing and how I went out about preparing myself.

It took Scales more than 1,000 games and 11 seasons in the minors before he made it to the majors last year. He appeared in 51 games with the Cubs and then signed another minor-league contract, because he didnt want to bounce around to a fifth organization at this stage of his career.

Im not on a long-term deal and Im not a prospect, Scales said, so thats kind of the life that we lead, (the) guys who are kind of in the middle. (Its) a lot of uncertainty and its a lot tougher on our families.

You just roll with it. Sure, I would have liked to have been here all year. Who wouldnt have? But I was in the minor leagues and my job was to go there and play hard.

Beyond the thrill of putting on the uniform and running onto Wrigley Field, there are more tangible benefits. A September call-up can make a prorated portion of the major-league minimum approximately 60,000 and earn service time.

It can be addictive, which makes Sandbergs apprenticeship even more impressive. It makes you wonder how much longer hell want to do it and realize how difficult it would be for Quade to give it all up now.

Its even cooler than I thought, man, all the way around, Snyder said. The lifestyle, everything about the game its like I got a little taste of it now and I dont want to ever go back.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for 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.’”