Cubs

Santos shadow: Moreland, Hughes get to work

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Santos shadow: Moreland, Hughes get to work

Saturday, Feb. 26, 20112:55 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. Keith Moreland and Pat Hughes leaned over the dugout rail on Saturday morning at HoHoKam Park. They will have to fill hundreds and hundreds of hours of air time across the next seven months. They hope it will sound like an easy conversation.

Ron Santo, who died of complications from bladder cancer last December, would have turned 71 on Friday. His presence is missed throughout Cubs camp, though he is not forgotten.

Theres no doubt Ron was a great friend, a major part of this organization for 50 years, Moreland said. I have sadness and excitement all at the same time.

Santos image is all over the teams media guide cover. The players wear No. 10 uniform patches and a statue will be built outside Wrigley Field. On Sunday, Moreland and Hughes will call their first game together as the new WGN radio team, in a booth where Santo was a fixture for 21 seasons.

Moreland, a Cub from 1982-87, is an accomplished broadcaster who has occasionally filled in for Santo and Bob Brenly on the television side. Combined he spent 25 seasons as a University of Texas analyst for baseball and football games.

Moreland will be more analytical, but still get words wrong. It will be interesting to listen to find out if he calls out the professionals.

There is no substitute for hustle, he said. Baseball is a game that you cannot control the outcome because you can hit the ball four times right on the button or you can make five really good pitches in a row and two of them could leave the ballpark.

But what you do have control of is the effort. And if theres a point (where) I can be critical, it will be about effort.

Moreland spent part of Saturday making introductions. He walked over to the cage to talk with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, and Hughes later showed him around the press box. Hughes has worked with Bob Uecker, Santo and now Moreland, who has a three-year contract.

Oh, heck, yeah, Im nervous, Moreland said, in the sense that I just hope people allow me to be me. Again, Santo's irreplaceable. Thats not my intention in any capacity and because of that, I have some apprehension. But, again, I get to turn to my right and look and see whos sitting beside me. Hughes is the best straight man in the world.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Even the Indians can't deny the lasting impact Cubs have on Progressive Field

Even the Indians can't deny the lasting impact Cubs have on Progressive Field

CLEVELAND — Even the Indians can't deny the lasting impact Cubs have on Progressive Field.

Namely, the impact the Cubs left on the floor of the visiting locker room.

With 18 months in between visits, one of the first things the Cubs noticed about their clubhouse at Progressive Field was the new carpet.

"It's probably necessary," Joe Maddon said with a smile. "So some good things have come from all that stuff, too, for the visitors. You get new interior decorating."

After the Indians blew a 3-1 lead in the 2016 World Series, the Cubs — and Bill Murray — dumped an awful lot of champagne and Budwesier on the old carpets.

Like, A LOT. 

"Oh yeah," Addison Russell said, "I think we messed it up pretty good."

It'd be hard to fault the Cubs for an epic celebration to honor the end of a 108-year championship drought, especially the way in which they accomplished the feat with maybe the most incredible baseball game ever played.

As the Cubs returned to the emotional, nostalgic-riddled scene of that historic fall, the parallels were striking.

Exactly 18 months before Tuesday, the Cubs walked into Progressive Field for the start of the World Series in 54 degree Cleveland weather with overcast skies and a pestering little drizzle.

Tuesday, the Cubs walked back into Progressive Field in 54 degree Cleveland weather with overcast skies and a pestering little drizzle.

A bunch of Cubs also found their lockers in the same place in that visiting locker room.

Russell, Ben Zobrist, Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo and Jon Lester all have their lockers in the same spots this week as they had for the 2016 Fall Classic.

Some clubhouses go in numerical order, some go based on position groups. The Indians don't really seem to fall under either camp, considering Lester was surrounded by all position players in the corner of the locker room, where — before Tuesday —was last seen giving a heartfelt "thank you" to the media for "putting up with him" all season.

"Just walking back into the stadium from the bus into the clubhouse, you get the sense of nostalgia," Russell said. "I see that they replaced the carpet, which is nice. But yeah, the weight room, the food room, I just remember walking around here having that World Series Champs shirt on.

"It's a great memory. I think this is the same locker I had as well. Everything's just fitting like a puzzle piece right now and it's pretty awesome."

Kyle Schwarber is basically Superman in Cleveland

Kyle Schwarber is basically Superman in Cleveland

CLEVELAND — Kyle Schwarber LOVES hitting in Cleveland.

It's like he morphs into a superhero just by stepping foot into the left-handed batter's box at Progressive Field.

Playing in Cleveland for the first time since his legendary return to the field in the 2016 World Series, Schwarber went absolutely bonkers on a Josh Tomlin pitch in the second inning Tuesday night:

That wasn't just any homer, however. 

The 117.1 mph dinger was the hardest-hit ball by any Cubs hitter in the era of exit velocity, aka since Statcast was invented in 2015:

Schwarber followed that up with another solo blast into the right-field bleachers in the fourth inning off Tomlin.

Schwarber — an Ohio native — collected his first MLB hit at Progressive Field back on June 17, 2015 in his second career game. He went 6-for-9 in that series with a triple, homer and 4 RBI.

Couple that with his World Series totals and the first two times up Tuesday and Schwarber has hit .500 with a .545 on-base percentage and .900 slugging percentage in his first 33 trips to the plate in Cleveland.