The ability to steal bases consistently puts pressure on opposing defenses and allows runners to get into scoring position without the benefit of a hit. And no one does it better than Tony Campana. The Cubs center fielder is currently tied for the major league lead in stolen bases at 24 with Dodgers speedster Dee Gordon. But Campana has only 143 at-bats to Gordon’s 274. In other words, Campana knows how to swipe a bag.
For the July issue of Vine Line, Campana showed Cubs fans how he does it by getting a good lead, keeping an eye on the pitcher and using proper footwork. For more insider access to the Cubs, subscribe to Vine Line. And read the complete story in the July issue, which also features articles on the likely Cubs All-Stars, the legacy of Kerry Wood and the fans’ all-time best Cubs lineup.
When the Boston Red Sox come to Wrigley Field, the entire baseball world stands at attention. Today, the Sox came to town for only the second time in history. Vine Line was there along with Cubs Manager Dale Sveum, MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons, Darwin Barney, and thousands of Cubs and Sox faithful to soak in the excitement.
Earlier this season, Vine Line got an opportunity to chat with best-selling author and baseball enthusiast John Grisham as he threw out the first pitch and sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in his first-ever trip to Wrigley Field. Grisham describes the beloved stadium through his eyes, his love for the game and coping with first-pitch nerves. To read the full story, check out the June edition of Vine Line.
David DeJesus has never been the flashiest player, but what he brings to a team goes far beyond numbers on a stat sheet. As Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s first major acquisition, DeJesus was brought to the Cubs for his work ethic, exceptional defense, strong on-base percentage and leadership in the clubhouse. And the versatile right fielder, who has a .288/.379/.412 triple-slash line, is off to a great start in Chicago. For the June issue of Vine Line, we sat down with DeJesus to talk about leadership, playing the game the right way and his connection to Chicago.
“We plan to be here as long as possible. This is going to be our home base,” DeJesus said. “It makes it better when you’re playing for your hometown team, and you can go 45 minutes to home at the end of the season or at the end of the day. And I love being a Cub.”
To read the full profile of DeJesus, pick up the June edition of Vine Line. Or subscribe today at cubs.com/vineline. The following is a short excerpt from the June cover story by Gregory Trotter.
David DeJesus charged hard around the bases.
Rounding second, he nimbly hopped over a grounder that skittered into the outfield, and then broke into a toothy grin. Covered in sweat, he returned to the dugout to retrieve his glove—for fielding practice. The late-April night game against the St. Louis Cardinals was still two and a half hours away.
This batting practice display offered a glimpse of the intangibles—the intensity, the passion, the childlike joy—that likely convinced Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein to make DeJesus his first and most prominent offseason roster addition. It was by no means a splashy signing. But, as an elite defensive outfielder with a solid bat, DeJesus was a bodily manifestation of “playing the game the right way,” a phrase often used to describe the new Cubs Way.
“He’s a perfect example of where this organization is headed,” said teammate Reed Johnson, who speaks gushingly about DeJesus’ play in right field and his work ethic.
For DeJesus, signing with the Cubs was nothing less than an alignment of the stars. The 32-year-old right fielder was looking for a bounce-back season after suffering a frustrating down year in 2011 with the Oakland A’s, and Epstein’s faith reaffirmed what he always believed about himself as a player. It also provided him the luxury of being able to drive home after games to his new residence in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton, where he lives with his wife, Kim, and their 2-year-old son, Kingston.
“It’s an honor,” DeJesus said of Epstein’s pursuit of him. “With the track record he has of bringing in quality baseball players … it’s definitely something I’m proud of. I’m happy he thinks of me like that.”
In Vine Line‘s monthly conversation with Cubs Manager Dale Sveum, we cover everything from the breakout season of Bryan LaHair to the fate of erstwhile closer Carlos Marmol. To read the full interview, pick up the June issue of Vine Line, on sale soon at Chicago-area newsstands. Or subscribe to Vine Line for just $29.95.
The stolen base is returning to prominence in the major leagues. But nothing kills a rally faster than picking off a runner or keeping him firmly rooted to the first base bag. For the May issue of Vine Line, Cubs left-hander Paul Maholm shows Cubs fans how big league pitchers hold runners on first with a variety of pickoff moves. For more insider access to the Cubs, subscribe to Vine Line. And read the complete story in the May issue, available at Chicago-area newsstands now.
Baseball players must rely on mental strength just as much as physical prowess to make it through the 162-game grind. For that reason, Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd incorporated Muay Thai, a form of martial arts developed in Thailand, into his offseason workout program.
“If I can go five rounds in here training and sparring, then when I’m going out for baseball, nothing’s going to slow me down,” he said.
Vine Line sat down with Byrd to discuss his Muay Thai training, goals for the upcoming season and his relationship with the up-and-coming outfield prospects in the Cubs organization.
CHICAGO—Win or lose, nothing beats Opening Day at Wrigley Field. Though the Cubs were unable to finish off Ryan Dempster’s 10-strikeout Opening Day gem, falling 2-1 to the Nationals, the excitement over the 2012 team was palpable. The Wrigley faithful packed the streets by 8 a.m. to check out the new offerings at the Friendly Confines, including the LED scoreboard in right field, the Budweiser Patio, and the Cubs Store on the corner of Clark and Addison. Vine Line was there along with Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, Hall of Famer Billy Williams and Manager Dale Sveum to kick off the baseball season in style.
MESA, Ariz.–Cubs color commentator Bob Brenly spent nine seasons as a major league catcher and more than three seasons as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks before joining the Cubs broadcast team. To wrap up our week in Mesa, Vine Line talked with Brenly about what he’s seen so far in camp, what he thinks of new manager Dale Sveum and how Spring Training can set the tone for the regular season.