Results tagged ‘ Xavier Nady ’

Still all about the team

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    MESA, Ariz.–In 1987, after Andre Dawson got plunked by the Padres’ Eric Show, a young Greg Maddux was told not to retaliate. If he did, he’d be on the first bus back to Triple A.

Still just trying earn his keep at the big-league level, Maddux did not heed those words and uncorked a fastball at Benito Santiago. He wasn’t sent down right away, but he did earn respect.

“It’s all about the team,” he told me, when recalling that story a couple of years ago.

Maddux back small.jpgOn Monday, the man who probably will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball history took his turn….throwing batting practice.

It was very non-descript. I’m not sure anyone else saw it. And in his illustrious career, it was the FIRST time he had ever done it. He’s thrown BP to his kids before, but all these years he’s been in camp as a player and never done it.

In the cage were three young catchers–Robinson Chrinios, Blake Lalli and Steve Clevenger. All three probably hadn’t been born or at least were toddlers when Maddux plunked that guy nearly 23 years ago.

There might be a little paunch to his middle these days, but excuse the guy for enjoying himself a little after spending more than two decades winning 355 games, throwing over 5,000 innings and striking out 3,371 men.

“The game gave me more than I could ever want or ever hope for,” Maddux said. “It’s just nice to be back in it and try and give back and help the players and team. That’s what it’s all about. You help the players, hopefully the team wins more games.”

maddux throwing small.jpgHe was huffing and puffing a little bit out there. “Yeah, throwing BP let’s you know how out of shape you are,” he laughed. “It’s OK for the first 10 minutes, then toward the end you’re sucking wind.”

After the session was over I spied Clevenger packing up his bat and helmet. It was then he gave a quick glance out to the mound. While Maddux was picking up balls–just like any other guy–Clevenger shook his head and smiled a big ol’ grin as if to say, “Man, that was pretty cool. I hit BP off of Greg Maddux.”

“Well, hopefully these young guys realize they are good enough to be in the big leagues,” Maddux said. “I hope they understand to work hard to be successful. Because what this game can do for you and your family is incredible, so they should take advantage of that.”


— Carlos Silva pitched for the first time. He looked decent. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild encouraged him to drive more off his back leg.

— Geovany Soto returned to action, looking fit and solid.

— During double play drills and infield practice, it was amazing to see how smooth Andres Blanco is at shortstop.

— Rookie Starlin Castro looked good during live BP, raking several John Grabow offerings into left field. Line drives, not flyballs, mind you.

— Xavier Nady sat out outfield cutoff drills because of his arm, on which he had Tommy John surgery last year. He stood next to manager Lou Piniella, talking about angles of pursuit.

— It was the “Carlos Show” with Silva and both Zambrano and Marmol throwing live BP. Both looked good, throwing hard and crisp.

–Mike Huang

Vine Line subscribers  will read more of this Greg Maddux interview in the coming months in Vine Line and its new landing page on, soon to debut this month.The page will include stories from the current month’s issue, a photo gallery from Steve Green and video from spring training and Wrigley Field, during the season.

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Say cheese…*yawn*

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        MESA, Ariz.–It was still dark this morning when staff photographer Steve Green and I made our way to Fitch Park. Though it was 5:30 a.m., to me it was more like 7:30 in Chicago. I felt pretty good. After a short stop at Starbucks, we arrived at the Cubs’ minor-league facility.

Photo day dawn small.jpgThings were still soggy after it rained virtually all day on Sunday. I never have seen so much rain in Arizona, but by the afternoon, most of it had dried up.

Photo Day is when teams take care of photos for MLB security IDs, standard headshots that other teams use on their jumbotrons.

 Also on hand to shoot the players were Topps trading cards, Getty photo services and the Associated Press.

Three stations crammed into a room that usually serves as the coaches’ meeting room. We move all of the tables and chairs to make room.

photo day work room small.jpgXavier Nady, a newcomer to the Cubs, asked “Are these the headshots used on the jumbotron?”

He was worried about how his face looked on a big screen after inspecting one headshot on the photographer’s digital camera.

But when he was reminded that Wrigley Field does not have a jumbotron, he retorted, “Hey, that’s right. Well, in that case, I guess that’s OK.”

In his first big-league camp, rookie Starlin Castro was quiet, but did everything Steve asked.

Castro small.jpgWe were doing a special shoot for our April issue of Vine Line, which will feature our 2010 season preview. He’s a good-looking athlete and certainly has merited all the hype he’s attracted.

Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg takes over our Triple-A affiliate in Iowa. Always accommodating, “Ryno” is a veteran of these photo days, and knew exactly what to do.

No Geovany Soto, he was sent home with a 102-degree fever. Ouch.

Michael Huang 

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