Cubs

Are Cubs feeling drained? The clubhouse is divided

Are Cubs feeling drained? The clubhouse is divided

For the second straight week, Kyle Schwarber halted his postgame media scrum to get something off his chest.

Standing at his locker — the same spot he stood exactly a week prior — the Cubs slugger got about as forceful as he's ever been with the cameras rolling.

Are the Cubs drained right now?

"Never. Nope. Not at all," Schwarber said. "I'll shut you down right there — we're not running out of gas at all."

Really? 

You gotta admire Schwarber's grit. He's got that linebacker/football mentality still locked and loaded in mid-October after a brutal first three games of the NLCS.

But...come on. The Cubs aren't drained? They're not tired or weary or mentally fatigued?

Schwarber says no, but it doesn't look that way on the field. They look like the high point of the season was that epic Game 5 in D.C. It was one of the craziest baseball games ever played, very reminsicent of Game 7 in last year's World Series.

Only one thing: Game 7 was the ultimate last game. They left it all on the field and that was cool because there was no more season left. Last week's wacky contest wasn't the final game of the season. It was just the final game of the FIRST series of the postseason.

So if the Cubs aren't feeling any weariness — emotional, physical, mental or otherwise — they must be superhuman.

Yet Anthony Rizzo — the face of the franchise — backed Schwarber's sentiment.

"I'm 28 years old right now," Rizzo said. "I could run laps around this place right now. I've got a great job for a living to play baseball.

"We have a beautiful life playing baseball. You gotta keep that in perspective. So if you wanna try to get mentally tired, realize what we're doing."

Rizzo talked that talk, but his performance on the field has hit a wall. After his "Respect Me!" moment in Game 3 of the NLDS, Rizzo went hitless in his next 16 at-bats before a harmless single Tuesday night. He then struck out in his final trip to the plate.

Bryzzo's other half — Kris Bryant — actually took the opposite stance of his teammates.

"Yeah, [that Washington series] was pretty draining, I think," Bryant admitted. "Some good games there that I think were pretty taxing for our bullpen and pitchers, too. 

"Kinda expect that around this time of year. The games mean a lot."

It's not surprising to hear those words from Bryant. In fact, it wouldn't even be mildly shocking to hear every player in the clubhouse share the same point of view.

The Cubs played all the way past Halloween last fall, then hit the town, having epic celebrations, going on TV shows, having streets named after them, etc. 

Then, before you know it, there's Cubs Convention again. And shortly after that, pitchers and catchers report. 

From there, the "title defense" season began, featuring a lackluster first half and a second half that took a tremendous amount of energy just to stave off the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central and get into the postseason.

Oh yeah, and then that series with the Nationals where the Cubs squeaked out a trio of victories by the slimest of margins.

These Cubs have never really had anything resembling a break. 

However, they're now just one game away from getting that rest they so badly need (and deserve).

Ozzie Guillen says Kris Bryant is his favorite player to watch

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USA TODAY

Ozzie Guillen says Kris Bryant is his favorite player to watch

Ozzie Guillen is a big Kris Bryant fan.

In fact, the former White Sox manager even went as far as saying the Cubs third baseman is his favorite player to watch right now.

"I love this guy, since the first day he was coming in," Guillen said Tuesday on Baseball Night in Chicago. "No matter how you look at it, besides a great player, he's a pro and that's more important.

"The way he goes about his business, the way he goes about his at-bats, everything is professional. He's just so good."

Even with Guillen being a White Sox guy at heart, you can't help but appreciate Bryant as a player and what he's accomplished already at the age of 26.

Bryant has won a World Series ring, an MVP award, and was Rookie of the Year. In four seasons, he has a .289/.391/.529 slash line with 96 homers and 282 RBIs.

Pretty solid accolades for a guy who still has his whole career ahead of him. So just how great could Bryant be?

"This kid has a chance to be one of the best players ever to wear that uniform if they let him," Guillen said.

A reminder that you can watch Baseball Night in Chicago every weeknight from Monday through Friday at 6:30 p.m. The new half-hour show will serve as the lead-in program for every 7:00 p.m. weeknight Cubs or White Sox game on NBC Sports Chicago this season. 

Cubs Talk Podcast: Does Javy Baez have an MVP in his future?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Does Javy Baez have an MVP in his future?

David Kaplan, Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki sit down and discuss Cubs star Javy Baez and his transformation from Puerto Rican HS star to MLB star and the trials and tribulations he has faced and still faces as one of baseball's flashiest players.

Take a listen here or in the embedded player below.