2016 Cubs Convention: Meet the New Cubs
The front office has made several key acquisitions this offseason, bolstering the pitching staff and adding to the lineup. Come welcome some of the newest Cubs to Chicago: Rex Brothers, Jason Heyward, John Lackey, Adam Warren and Ben Zobrist. Ron Coomer and Dave Otto will lead the conversation as the guys talk about their lives on and off the field, and what they’re most looking forward to about playing for the Cubs.
Ron Coomer and Dave Otto hosted the afternoon panel, which got underway right away with questions.
John Lackey says the main reason he decided to play in Chicago was to make history and do something special. He loves visiting Chicago as a member of the road team. There’s a little extra energy in the playoffs, things get “amped up.”
Jason Heyward loves coming here as a visitor as well, crediting a lively Wrigley Field and the fan loyalty as part of his reason for signing. He says he’s just trying to get out of the first round of the postseason, something he’s been unable to do in his previous six seasons at baseball’s top level. Baseball is his job and he’s just fortunate to get to do it in front of Cubs fans.
Ben Zobrist, who played with manager Joe Maddon in his time in Tampa, says he got to know what some of manager’s tendencies are, but he definitely keeps everybody on his toes with his willingness to play guys all over the place. Players even rolled their eyes at some of the moves just because they originally sound so outside of the box in principle, but he loves playing for him.
Zobrist was also asked what advice he would give a 14-year-old team. He suggests continuing to work hard and that youth ballplayers are learning skills that may not even go to the baseball field, but in life. He also reminders the questionnaire to just have fun.
Adam Warren got an opportunity to play with Mark Prior in the minors and had a great experience. He also said if he was given an opportunity to play with Kerry Wood, it would have been fun.
Zobrist joked that Maddon gave him the nickname, “Zorilla,” which is actually, “one of the smelliest animals on the planet.” He hopes Maddon was unaware of that, but he’s not entirely sure if that’s the case.
When asked about the fandom, Heyward said, “We chose you.”
Zobrist called his experience in the World Series an unreal one. But when it comes down to it, it’s still the same game and they need to go out there and win the game. Zobrist claimed a title with the Royals in 2015. Lackey, who won in 2002 with the Angels and 2013 with the Red Sox, agrees with that notion. He believes that there’s a lot of things going on outside of the game including the pregame and postgame requirements, but after first pitch, it’s time to lock in.
Adam Warren referred to entering any season in New York as, “World Series or die,” every year. The former Yankee said it makes him feel like he needs to play great, because you don’t want to be booed by the home crowd.
Rex Brothers, unaware of the quantity of day games on the Cubs schedule, calls playing in the afternoon a different style game. From a reliever standpoint, during a day game, he’s sitting in the sun, it just is a different animal.
“It sounds like I have quite an adjustment to make,” Brothers said. after quickly being informed of the many 1:20 starts at Wrigley Field. “I know me personally, I’ve walked out of Wrigley too many times hearing that, ‘Go Cubs Go.’”
Zobrist relived the last time he was at Wrigley Field as a player (in 2014), and he was in awe of the ballpark. He envisioned himself playing there when he became a free agent.
Brothers says he’s always had a tough time getting out former Cub Chris Denorfia. He claims he’d often have Denorfia in an 0-2 hole, and the right-handed batter would somehow get it back to a full count. Then he’d tip off a few pitches and Brothers decided the next pitch was going to be the last one he’d throw to him and Denorfia, regardless of the outcome. He said Denorfia generally proceeded to crush the ball into the gap.