Cubs prospect Russell embracing new team

Ranked No. 5 by MLBPipeline, SS looks forward to season after being acquired from A's

Cubs prospect Russell embracing new team

MESA, Ariz. -- Addison Russell has not had a chance to thank Jason Hammel for being part of the reason the shortstop was traded from the Athletics to the Cubs last July. It should be easy to do and won't even require a phone call. Hammel and Russell now find themselves in the same clubhouse with the Cubs.

Last July 5, Russell was included in the package the A's sent to Chicago for Hammel and Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs also received outfielder Billy McKinney and pitcher Dan Straily, who was dealt to the Astros in January along with Luis Valbuena for Dexter Fowler. Hammel returned to the Cubs after signing a two-year contract last December.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lester set for first live batting practice session

Manager Maddon still evaluating roster as Cubs get first experience with new lefty

Lester set for first live batting practice session

MESA, Ariz. -- Javier Baez, Mike Olt and Jorge Soler will be the first to take some swings against new Cubs pitcher Jon Lester, who is scheduled to throw his first live batting practice session on Friday.

Lester, Hector Rondon, Zac Rosscup, Brian Schlitter, Pedro Strop, Drake Britton, Corey Black and Pierce Johnson are scheduled for live batting practice.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Maddon emphasizes 'Respect 90' message

Saying painted on first-base line encourages running hard, making good things happen

Maddon emphasizes 'Respect 90' message

MESA, Ariz. -- Ernie Banks used to come up with a saying every year for the Cubs. This season, manager Joe Maddon's message has been painted along the first-base line of Field 1 at the Cubs' complex: Respect 90.

Last Dec. 3, Maddon posted the message on his Twitter account @CubsJoeMadd: "Respect 90 ... going to make daily push for our players to respect that distance .. run hard for 90 feet, and the respect will come back to you." It's also on his Twitter profile.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

La Stella adjusting to move to third base

Former second baseman embracing new position for Cubs

La Stella adjusting to move to third base

MESA, Ariz. -- When the Cubs traded for Tommy La Stella in November, they told the infielder that he needed to get a new glove.

La Stella has only played second base in the pros, both in the big leagues and the Minor Leagues. On Wednesday, he was taking grounders at third base along with Mike Olt. Acquired from the Braves for Arodys Vizcaino, La Stella was told he may need to be able to do more than play second to make the team.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Maddon's binge-watching The Office at Spring Training

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Maddon's binge-watching The Office at Spring Training

Cubs manager Joe Maddon is known for refined cultural palate. He used to take the Rays on Woodstock-themed road trips, he's quoted "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and now he's binge-watching "The Office" at Cubs Spring Training.

That last revelation came when Maddon said he felt like Michael Scott when he couldn't remember the team's upcoming scrimmage schedule.

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Former Cards Motte, Chambers see other side of Cubs rivalry

Both players ready to take advantage of new opportunity

Former Cards Motte, Chambers see other side of Cubs rivalry

MESA, Ariz. -- The history between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals has been intertwined for more than a century. The legendary Ernie Broglio for Lou Brock trade may be the most notable, but many players have suited up for both clubs. Included in the select group are Bruce Sutter, Dizzy Dean, Dennis Eckersley and Leo Durocher.

Now you can add former Cardinals Jason Motte and Adron Chambers to that list. Chicago signed Motte to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million and gave Chambers a Minor League deal and a non-roster invite to Spring Training.

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Nick Krueger is a junior journalism student at Arizona State University. This story is part of a Cactus League partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Maddon gets help from The Boss to fire up Cubs camp

Maddon gets help from The Boss to fire up Cubs camp

MESA, Ariz. -- The music was loud Wednesday for the Cubs' first full-squad workout, and included "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen. It was time to get to work under new manager Joe Maddon.

"I've always liked music during batting practice," Maddon said. "When you go to complex baseball and you're out in the middle of nowhere and it gets really quiet, crickets and all that kind of stuff, I like when it's really loud."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs owner Ricketts hopes to reward fans' loyalty

Cubs owner Ricketts hopes to reward fans' loyalty

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts met with the players prior to Wednesday's first full-squad workout and part of his message was to "treat our fans like gold." That's because they've helped Ricketts during the losing seasons.

"We've had some tough seasons and have had to do things the right way and make long-term decisions, and that's cost us games," Ricketts said. "But walking around the ballpark is encouraging. Fans are almost exclusively supportive, and they want to see everything done the right way because we want to get to that World Series and we're not going to do it by making short-term decisions. Frankly, the fans have really helped me get through the bad years, rather than the other way around."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

No matter what, Rizzo a fearless player

Rash of Chicago sports injuries doesn't deter Cubs first baseman's style

No matter what, Rizzo a fearless player

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs didn't need to wrap Anthony Rizzo or Starlin Castro in bubble wrap Wednesday, the first day the club's batters faced pitching. One can't blame Chicago sports fans for being a little nervous after injuries to Derrick Rose of the Bulls and Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks.

"I'm going to be tip-toeing today," Rizzo jokingly said before Wednesday's workout. "[The injuries are] unfortunate, especially because their season is coming down to the stretch. I'm pretty sure they have enough depth to hold on."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bard refreshed for comeback after taking time off

Once-dominant Red Sox hurler clears mind with bicycle ride across Iowa, European trek

Bard refreshed for comeback after taking time off

MESA, Ariz. -- Instead of pitching last summer, Daniel Bard rode a bike across Iowa. He then flew to Europe and drove around France, Switzerland and Germany with his wife.

"I said, 'I need a break.' And I took it, and it's the best thing I could've done," Bard said.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rizzo touts Sosa's legacy

MESA, Ariz. -- In early December, Anthony Rizzo was at a restaurant in Florida and saw Sammy Sosa.

"I went over and said hello and introduced myself," Rizzo said. "I tried to campaign for him to come back. I said, 'We'd love to have you.' Nothing crazy.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ready to get to work, Manny praises Cubs' talent

New hitting consultant doesn't rule out playing again, but first priority is to help Chicago's bats

Ready to get to work, Manny praises Cubs' talent

MESA, Ariz. -- Manny Ramirez was in uniform Wednesday, ready to start his new job as a hitting consultant with the Cubs. But he didn't rule out possibly playing baseball again.

Has Ramirez retired? He laughed.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs counting on Castro to continue to pull weight

Confident shortstop emphasizing leg work to prevent injuries, stay in lineup

Cubs counting on Castro to continue to pull weight

MESA, Ariz. -- Starlin Castro is prepared to carry the Cubs on his back. The shortstop literally did just that in preparation for the season.

One of the drills strength coach Tim Buss had Castro do to strengthen his legs was carry 210-pound teammate Mike Olt on his back, and run forward and backward.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs establish new mental skills program

Initiative has been a club goal for the last year; sports psychologist Ravizza named consultant

Cubs establish new mental skills program

MESA, Ariz. -- Theo Epstein remembers attempts at conversations with players about improving the mental side of the game.

"If you approached a player to talk to them about working on his mental game [20 years ago], his response would be, 'You think I'm nuts?'" said Epstein, the Cubs' president of baseball operations. "You still see that now and then, but that's the exception, not the rule."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs hire Manny, Youkilis as consultants

Ramirez to continue work advising hitters; Youk to contribute in scouting, player development

Cubs hire Manny, Youkilis as consultants

MESA, Ariz. -- Manny Ramirez is back in the big leagues, hired by the Cubs as a hitting consultant. The Cubs also announced Tuesday they have added Kevin Youkilis as a part-time scouting and player development consultant.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Ramirez will spend most of Spring Training with the Cubs and is expected to be at Wrigley Field at least once a month during the regular season.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Pipeline Perspectives: Cubs boast top collection of prospects

Bryant, Russell, Soler put Chicago ahead of Twins, Red Sox

Pipeline Perspectives: Cubs boast top collection of prospects

There's a good amount of subjectivity regarding baseball prospects. With the evaluation of talent being in the eye of the beholder, finding consensus is often difficult. Even Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLBPipeline.com don't always see eye-to-eye. They discuss their viewpoints regularly in a feature called Pipeline Perspectives. Submit a topic for them to debate.

For a franchise that hasn't won a World Series since 1908 or appeared in one since the end of World War II, the Cubs certainly are creating a lot of goodwill.

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Name day: Cubs dedicate Sloan Park

Chairman Ricketts attends ceremony along with Mesa mayor, councilmen

Name day: Cubs dedicate Sloan Park

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs' Spring Training ballpark was officially dedicated as Sloan Park on Tuesday.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts attended the ceremony along with Mesa Mayor John Giles and several city councilmen.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fans can purchase Cubs single-game tickets March 6

MESA, Ariz. -- Excited about the 2015 season and new Cubs manager Joe Maddon? Cubs single-game tickets go on sale March 6 at 10 a.m. CT.

Tickets will be available on cubs.com or by calling 800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827).

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cubs 'cooperating' in investigation of Maddon hiring

Commissioner Manfred expects resolution to come before regular season begins

Cubs 'cooperating' in investigation of Maddon hiring

MESA, Ariz. -- Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday he expected the investigation into allegations of tampering by the Cubs in the hiring of manager Joe Maddon to be completed before the regular season begins.

Manfred, meeting with the media Monday in Arizona, said they wanted to do a thorough investigation.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bryant ready to prove he belongs with Cubs

Minor League Player of the Year confident about reaching Majors after productive offseason

Bryant ready to prove he belongs with Cubs

MESA, Ariz. -- Kris Bryant had his one-on-one meeting with Joe Maddon on Monday, and, no, the Cubs' top prospect did not tell the manager that he belonged on the Opening Day roster.

Bryant, 23, is confident, but he knows he has to show Maddon and the Cubs he's ready.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Maddon's way: Cubs pitchers to meet with sports psychologist

New manager wants players to build routine, stay in present

Maddon's way: Cubs pitchers to meet with sports psychologist

MESA, Ariz. -- Back in the 1980s, it was tough for Joe Maddon to convince any of his baseball teammates or coaches that seeing a sports psychologist could be a good thing.

"These guys wanted to know when did [the psychologist] ever play baseball and what right does he have to tell us [things]," Maddon said Monday. "I said, 'You're missing the point. He's going to attempt to help you teach what you know better by going from A to B to C to D and putting it in a more precise order.' It was hard to get that across back in 1984."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Edwards keeping watchful eye on how veterans do it

Edwards keeping watchful eye on how veterans do it

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs prospect C.J. Edwards is trying to keep up with his teammates.

"I'm trying to grow a little facial hair," Edwards said. "I still look like a little kid in grade school."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Phil Rogers

Cubs were ahead of the game on Soler

Cubs were ahead of the game on Soler

MESA, Ariz. -- As Yoan Moncada heads to the Red Sox, the Cubs are happy they did their shopping early.

The Cubs signed their own version of Moncada, Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler, in 2012, one day before Major League Baseball's system of international spending limits and taxes took effect. They were prevented from pursuing Moncada because they exceeded their signing allotment in the 2013-14 period, but they haven't especially minded.

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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.

Strong body and mind fuel Cubs' Arrieta

Right-hander benefits from sports psychology program he started at TCU

Strong body and mind fuel Cubs' Arrieta

MESA, Ariz. -- One day during his sophomore year at Texas Christian University, Jake Arrieta and his baseball teammates found themselves in a dark room, lying on the floor, their eyes closed.

"I was like, 'What are we doing here?'" Arrieta said about his introduction to sports psychology. "But as soon as you start to accept it, you understand the importance of it. With the dark room and the voice in the corner, it was all about visualization and being able to see things happen before they do."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ross feels right at home with the Cubs

Maddon likes having trio of catchers club has on roster

Ross feels right at home with the Cubs

MESA, Ariz. -- All David Ross has asked of his new Cubs teammates so far is to guide him so he doesn't go to the wrong field for drills. Ross may not know his way around the Cubs' complex, but he can definitely handle a pitching staff. And so can the Cubs' other two catchers.

"From the other dugout, I've always known the benefits that [Ross] brought to a team," manager Joe Maddon said Sunday, "and then you get to converse with him and be with him, and it's true. He's just a different man."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wood turns page in hopes of better year

Wood turns page in hopes of better year

MESA, Ariz. -- The 2014 season was humbling for Cubs pitcher Travis Wood. An All-Star in 2013 when he compiled 24 quality starts and a 3.11 ERA in 32 games, the left-hander posted a 5.03 ERA in 31 starts last year.

"Last year was a big learning year," Wood said on Sunday. "I always say you learn a lot more when you fail than when you succeed. You see your flaws better.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Maddon: Spring Training games important

Maddon: Spring Training games important

MESA, Ariz. -- Joe Maddon wants the Cubs to play just as hard in March as in June, July or August, and hopefully, in October. That will be part of his message Wednesday when he addresses the full squad.

"I do like to win in Spring Training," Maddon said Sunday. "I think my message to the group when they show up in a couple days is I want them to play the game, whether it's March 15 or July 15 or Oct. 15.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ross experimenting with different helmet styles

Ross experimenting with different helmet styles

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs catcher David Ross is experimenting this spring with what catcher's helmet to use.

"I used to wear the hockey-style mask and switched to a traditional one last year, and didn't throw as good," Ross said Sunday. "The hockey style helps with my direction."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.