Confidence, consistency key to Russell's success

Maddon: Shortstop 'in the conversation' for NL Gold Glove Award

Confidence, consistency key to Russell's success

LOS ANGELES -- The Cubs did not take batting practice on Tuesday at Petco Park -- they rarely do, because manager Joe Maddon feels it's overrated -- but Addison Russell was on the field prior to the game to do his early work. His extra effort is one of the reasons the shortstop is a leading candidate for a 2016 National League Gold Glove Award.

"He wants to be good, and he is good," Cubs third-base and infield coach Gary Jones said. "He wants to be better. He's one of those guys who comes every day and wants to get better every day."

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Big bats back Hendricks, bring brooms to SD

Big bats back Hendricks, bring brooms to SD

SAN DIEGO -- Remember Ray Prim? The left-hander won 13 games for the Cubs in 1945, the last time they played in the World Series. Prim was the last Cubs pitcher to lead the National League in ERA. Kyle Hendricks could change that.

Hendricks got a big boost from the offense before he took the mound, thanks to a three-run first, as the Cubs beat the Padres, 6-3, on Wednesday at Petco Park to sweep the series and improve to 36 games over .500 for the first time since 1945, when they finished that season at 98-56.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Contreras keeps stepping up to big league challenges

Rookie behind plate for day game after catching night game, belts homer

Contreras keeps stepping up to big league challenges

SAN DIEGO -- Willson Contreras passed another test on Wednesday. The Cubs' rookie catcher was behind the plate for the daytime series finale against the Padres after catching the night game on Tuesday.

Before the game, manager Joe Maddon said he wanted Contreras to start in an attempt to slow down the Padres' running game. The rookie showed off his arm on Tuesday with a key pickoff at third in the first inning to get Travis Jankowski. The Padres, who rank third in the National League in stolen bases, did not attempt to run on Contreras on Wednesday.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hendricks battles in 3rd to extend dominance

Righty owns league's best ERA, has allowed 3 ER or fewer in past 17 starts

Hendricks battles in 3rd to extend dominance

SAN DIEGO -- The key inning on Wednesday was the third for the Cubs' Kyle Hendricks. The Padres had pulled within one after Wil Myers' RBI triple. There was nobody out, and Hendricks had to face San Diego's 3-4-5 hitters.

But Hendricks didn't blink. The right-hander got both Yangervis Solarte and Alex Dickerson to pop up to third baseman Javier Baez, and then he struck out Ryan Schimpf to end the inning. That helped Hendricks notch his 12th win in the Cubs' 6-3 victory at Petco Park.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs, Ross ready for LA series as Montgomery starts opener

Cubs, Ross ready for LA series as Montgomery starts opener

The Cubs cruise into Los Angeles to face the Dodgers in a three-game series beginning Friday that will be sentimental for Chicago catcher David Ross and possibly frustrating for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. Los Angeles is sorting out its starting pitching for the series after putting Brett Anderson and Scott Kazmir on the disabled list on Wednesday.

Bud Norris is scheduled to start Friday for the Dodgers in the series opener, while Saturday's and Sunday's pitchers remain to be determined. Norris is 6-7 with a 5.18 ERA in 17 starts this season, and his his last start was Aug. 19 against the Reds, lasting 3 2/3 innings. The right-hander gave up six runs on seven hits and four walks in that outing.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Maddon: Versatility on field helping Baez's bat

23-year-old has played all four infield positions this season

Maddon: Versatility on field helping Baez's bat

SAN DIEGO -- Javier Baez has played all four infield positions for the Cubs this season, and he has definitely shined at second base. Shouldn't he be settling down at one spot?

"It depends on how we morph as a group over the next couple of years," manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday. "I like the way it's working out."

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ross set to bid Los Angeles farewell

Veteran catcher began career with Dodgers, will play there for final time this weekend

Ross set to bid Los Angeles farewell

SAN DIEGO -- David Ross will say goodbye to where he started his professional baseball career this weekend.

The farewell tour for the 39-year-old catcher, who is retiring after this season, will be in Los Angeles this weekend when the Cubs play the Dodgers in a three-game series, starting Friday. Ross was the Dodgers' seventh-round pick in the 1998 Draft, and he made his Major League debut on June 29, 2002.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs soar to 80th win on HRs, Arrieta's gem

Cubs soar to 80th win on HRs, Arrieta's gem

SAN DIEGO -- Kris Bryant and Addison Russell each homered to help Jake Arrieta become the National League's first and lead the Cubs to a 5-3 victory Tuesday night over the Padres for their 21st win in the last 26 games.

Now 80-45, Chicago is the first team in the Majors to win 80 games, and is 35 games over .500 for the first time since Sept. 25, 2008 (96-61). This is the quickest the Cubs have reached 80 wins since 1929, and that team won an NL pennant.

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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arrieta comes up gold again in Golden State

Cubs ace fires 8 scoreless with help from defense

Arrieta comes up gold again in Golden State

SAN DIEGO -- Jake Arrieta won't get a chance to pitch at Dodger Stadium in the Cubs' upcoming series but on Tuesday night, he showed once again how much he likes the West Coast.

Arrieta picked up his National League-leading 16th win in a 5-3 victory over the Padres, giving up two hits over eight scoreless innings. In four starts in California this year against the Angels, Giants, Athletics and Padres, Arrieta has given up one run on 11 hits over 30 innings combined. And he's won all four of those games.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bryant's big night makes USD crowd proud

Bryant's big night makes USD crowd proud

SAN DIEGO -- University of San Diego baseball coach Rich Hill was in the right place at the right time to watch one of his star pupils, Kris Bryant.

Hill was a guest in the Padres' television booth on Tuesday night when Bryant launched his 33rd home run with one out in the third inning of the Cubs' 5-3 win over the Padres.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Russell a Gold Glove SS? Maddon thinks so

Cubs manager rewards stellar play with bottle of wine

Russell a Gold Glove SS? Maddon thinks so

SAN DIEGO -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon presented Addison Russell with a bottle of wine on Tuesday as a token of appreciation for his play in the series opener. Maddon hopes to give the shortstop a gift later this season if Russell wins a Gold Glove for his defensive play.

"He's definitely got to be in the conversation, legitimate conversation," Maddon said of Russell. "This guy on defense, it's getting to the point where there's no one else like that right now."

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs fans lose it after catching Bryant HR ball

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Cubs fans lose it after catching Bryant HR ball

For those who have been living under a particularly thick rock for the last few months, Kris Bryant is having himself a year: Entering play against the Padres on Tuesday, he'd slashed .299/.390/.568 with 32 dingers and at least one heart grown three sizes. He's got talent, he's got fashion, he might very well be the National League MVP.

Now, imagine getting your very own piece of that history in the making. Imagine being one of the lucky few fans to take home a souvenir blessed by Bryant's bat. Now take all that excitement, multiply it by at least 100, and enjoy the following GIF.

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Lackey expects to return from DL soon after eligible

Cubs starter rehabbing right shoulder strain

Lackey expects to return from DL soon after eligible

SAN DIEGO -- John Lackey played catch on Tuesday for the first time since he was placed on the disabled list Aug. 15, and if he continues to make progress, the Cubs right-hander will throw a bullpen session this weekend in Los Angeles. Lackey, rehabbing a right shoulder strain, did not expect to be sidelined too long after the Aug. 30 date when he's eligible to be activated.

"It felt good," Lackey said. "We'll see how it goes [Wednesday]. I don't anticipate anything. It felt pretty normal today. Hopefully, we'll keep moving forward."

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Heyward's defense has made Cubs even stronger

Heyward's defense has made Cubs even stronger

Jason Heyward's first season with the Cubs has been a challenge, as his batting average shows. But don't label it a disappointment before it's over.

While Heyward is hitting .225 with only six home runs, his play in right field has contributed greatly to the Cubs being the best defensive team in the Major Leagues, as measured by Baseball Prospectus' defensive efficiency rankings. His avoidance of pouting and other forms of self-indulgence in the clubhouse has kept the air clean, not polluted, for a team that is on pace to win 103 games.

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Phil Rogers is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Russell stays hot, but glovework steals show

Cubs SS reaches 80 RBIs, flashes stellar defense in win

Russell stays hot, but glovework steals show

SAN DIEGO -- Cubs shortstop Addison Russell is joining an elite group, and he's just getting started.

Russell hit a solo homer and a sacrifice fly to help power the Cubs to a 5-1 victory on Monday night over the Padres. It was the shortstop's 18th homer this year, and the sac fly in the third raised his RBI total to 80. Hall of Famer Ernie Banks and Roy Smalley are the only Cubs shortstops to drive in 80 runs in a single season, with Banks totaling a career high 143 in 1959.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs 'ecstatic' as Heyward homers in return

'There's not a more professional guy,' Lester says of struggling RF

Cubs 'ecstatic' as Heyward homers in return

SAN DIEGO -- After sitting for three games, Joe Maddon had a simple message for outfielder Jason Heyward, who was back in the Cubs' lineup on Monday night.

"'Go play -- just go play,'" Maddon said. "I want to see a smile on his face, just play hard like he always does. I'd rather see him cut back on his work and just play the game. I want him fresh mentally and physically because there are so many ways he can help you win a baseball game. I just want him to go play and I mean that, sincerely. He can't do any more work, he can't try anything differently, he can't work any harder. It's impossible. Just go play."

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs crush 3, cruise as Lester dazzles in SD

Cubs crush 3, cruise as Lester dazzles in SD

SAN DIEGO -- The last time Addison Russell and Kris Bryant played at Petco Park was in July when they started for the National League All-Star team. On Monday night, they showed why they deserved those honors.

Russell hit a solo homer and sacrifice fly, Bryant added his 32nd homer and Jason Heyward smacked a two-run homer in his return to the lineup to back Jon Lester and lift the Cubs to a 5-1 victory over the Padres. Lester, also named to the NL All-Star team, picked up his 10th win in his last 11 decisions, dating to May 27.

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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Zastryzny to get looks as setup for Chapman

Zastryzny to get looks as setup for Chapman

SAN DIEGO -- Newcomer Rob Zastryzny has impressed manager Joe Maddon so much in his two outings that the lefty is in the mix as one of the Cubs' main setup relievers. Maddon has been testing different pitchers in that role since Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon went on the disabled list.

Travis Wood and Justin Grimm have also been in the mix to set up Aroldis Chapman. Strop will be sidelined until later in September after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus, while Rondon (right tricep strain) is eligible to come off the disabled list Sept. 1.

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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rockies let Rizzo just stroll on home after popup

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Rockies let Rizzo just stroll on home after popup

In the top of the ninth of Sunday's game against the Cubs, Rockies reliever Matt Carasiti found himself in a little bit of a jam: one out, one run already in, Anthony Rizzo on third, Jorge Soler at the plate.

But not to worry! Carasiti beared down, made a good pitch and got Soler to pop out into foul territory between first base and home plate. Catcher Tony Wolters and first baseman Ben Paulsen converged, and Paulsen called his teammate off and made the play. Surely, this would prevent Rizzo from scoring ... unless, of course, the Rockies defense became the opposite of a Tom Emanski instructional video.

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Russell 'at the top of his game' with 2-HR showing

Russell 'at the top of his game' with 2-HR showing

DENVER -- Rockies rookie shortstop Trevor Story has grabbed plenty of headlines this season for his home run barrage, but 22-year-old Cubs shortstop Addison Russell got in on the fun at Coors Field.

Russell went 2-for-3 with two home runs in Sunday's 11-4 loss to the Rockies and brought his total to three homers in the series.

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Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Montgomery impresses in first Cubs start

Filling in for Lackey, lefty tosses 4 1/3 innings of 1-hit ball

Montgomery impresses in first Cubs start

DENVER -- Filling in for the injured John Lackey, left-hander Mike Montgomery showed he can hold his own in the Cubs' rotation.

Starting his third game this season but first for Chicago, Montgomery tossed 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball in the Cubs' 9-2 win over the Rockies on Saturday night. He held a no-hit bid until Nick Hundley's home run ended his night.

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Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fans go after home run that landed in a trash can

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Fans go after home run that landed in a trash can

These are high times in the art of hitting baseballs into trash cans. Freddy Galvis hit a ball that hopped into the bullpen garbage. Just a week later, Taylor Featherston went into the dugout bin on the fly. During the Cubs' 11-4 loss to the Rockies on Sunday, though, Addison Russell outdid them all -- he reached the left-field trash can with a home run.

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Russell homers twice, but Hammel hit hard in loss

Russell homers twice, but Hammel hit hard in loss

DENVER -- Nolan Arenado's discontent came to a head Saturday night, when he and a hitting confidant argued until finding the cause. Arenado provided the solution Sunday afternoon, when he delivered two three-run homers in the Rockies' 11-4 rout of the National League Central-leading Cubs at Coors Field.

Batting-practice pitcher Garrett Carson, whose voice Arenado listens to, thought he was doing things right without good results. But Arenado, 1-for-16 this homestand before Sunday's 4-for-5 performance, knew something was off. Video revealed a slightly longer-than-recommended stride.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Cubs on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bryant hits blast as Cubs spoil prospect's debut

Bryant hits blast as Cubs spoil prospect's debut

DENVER -- The Cubs spoiled Rockies rookie Jeff Hoffman's Major League debut -- tagging him for seven runs in four-plus innings -- in a 9-2 victory Saturday night at Coors Field. The loss ends the Rockies' three-game win streak.

After three clean innings to start his career, Hoffman, 23, was roughed up by the second-best offense in the National League. The first four batters reached in the fourth, and Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist plated them on a single and a double along with Miguel Montero's two-run single. Hoffman couldn't record an out in the fifth and was removed after Bryant's three-run homer, which Statcast™ projected at 469 feet. Bryant broke a tie with Colorado's Nolan Arenado for the NL lead (31).

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Cubs on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fowler's bat awakens in return to Colorado

Cubs center fielder played for Rockies from 2008-13

Fowler's bat awakens in return to Colorado

DENVER -- Coming into the series against the Rockies, Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler had just three hits in his last 21 at-bats and five hits in his last 30. Perhaps a return to hitter-friendly Coors Field is just what he needed to get back on track.

Fowler came up big in the first game of the series with a leadoff homer and go-ahead single in the 11th on Friday night. He followed that with a 2-for-4 performance, scoring two runs in the Cubs' 9-2 victory Saturday night.

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Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Despite loss, dream debuts for Pena, Zastryzny

Despite loss, dream debuts for Pena, Zastryzny

DENVER -- Over the last three seasons, Cubs rookie left-hander Rob Zastryzny has only made one relief appearance.

It came in his first game in the Majors, a scoreless inning of relief in Friday's 11-inning, 7-6 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field. It wasn't what he dreamed, but it went better than he could have imagined.

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Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

For Bryant and Arenado, admiration is mutual

For Bryant and Arenado, admiration is mutual

DENVER -- The Cubs came to Colorado with arguably the two top National League MVP candidates in Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, but a few in their clubhouse believe the Rockies' Nolan Arenado should also be considered.

Arenado has admittedly been in a funk since the All-Star break, but he still paces the league with 30 homers, tied with Bryant, who has been the Majors' hottest player over the past month. Bryant and Arenado finished first and second, respectively, in All-Star fan voting among NL third basemen, and Arenado topped the player ballot.

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Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs' streak ends despite Fowler's feats

Cubs' streak ends despite Fowler's feats

DENVER -- Ryan Raburn was so happy that he'd made solid contact -- got a hit, even -- that he didn't realize at first that he had given the Rockies a 7-6, 11-inning victory over the National League Central-leading Cubs on Friday night.

Raburn, who had come away empty in his first two-at bats off the bench, swatted a 2-2 slider from Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman into the right-center-field gap for a double that drove in Nick Hundley, who had singled. Raburn was awarded home plate -- and the Rockies won their third straight -- because the relay throw from Cubs second baseman Javier Baez sailed into the Cubs' dugout.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Cubs on Friday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.