Kottaras' new dog becomes staple of Cubs camp

Kottaras' new dog becomes staple of Cubs camp

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs may have officially announced Clark the bear as the team mascot, but in Spring Training, it's George Kottaras' yellow lab, Leo.

The eight-month-old dog waits patiently near the Cubs' complex while Kottaras participates in workouts. Occasionally, Leo will bark, and usually one of the security guards takes him for a walk. It's Kottaras' first dog.

"I'm 30, single, no kids -- that's my boy," Kottaras said of the dog, which he named after Leonidas, who was king of the Greek city-state of Sparta. Kottaras' parents are both from Sparta.

"It's my first child. He acts like a child. He's playful and the 100-percent love he gives is amazing."

Kottaras considered a rescue dog, but instead bought Leo from a breeder. He makes sure Leo gets plenty of exercise in the morning while he does his early cardio work.

"He's been awesome," Kottaras said. "He's only been with a trainer four, five times. There's been a lot of little disciplinary things and a lot of patience, but for eight months old, he's been a treat."

Considering all the distractions and balls being thrown around, Leo has been well behaved in that he stays on a bed near the workout area, chewing on his toys or sleeping.

Kottaras did check with Cubs manager Rick Renteria to make sure it was all right to bring his pet.

"Everybody seems to love him and it's been a good spot for him," Kottaras said. "You can't not pet a dog and not feel good. He puts smiles on guys' faces."

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.