Cubs

Cubs completely redo Wrigley playing surface

784182.png

Cubs completely redo Wrigley playing surface

During the 2012 season several Cubs players voiced their complaints about the Wrigley Field playing surface, with one player calling it by far the worst in the major leagues."

That led to Cubs management doing an extensive study on every field in baseball and the amount of time that each field is used for non-baseball activities, which can cause considerable wear and tear on the playing surface.

At the conclusion of the 2012 season the decision was made to completely remove the current field and replace it with all new sod and dirt to bring the field up to a more acceptable level for the players.

In addition, the Cubs are expected to curtail the number of activities that are held at Wrigley starting with the 2013 season. From concerts to soccer games to corporate events, the field has gotten more play and more use than any other baseball only stadium in the sport.

When Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney was informed on Tuesday that the Cubs had decided to completely replace the playing field at Wrigley Field, he was quick to praise the team's ground crew who labored day and night to make the old surface playable.

"Our grounds crew did an amazing job trying to keep the playing surface in as good a shape as possible. However, when you have as many events going on as they do at Wrigley from concerts to corporate events it is very hard to maintain," Barney told CSNChicago.com.

At a cost of 400,000 the Cubs elected to completely tear out the old grass and dirt and replace it with a new blend of dirt and a Kentucky Bluegrass that was trucked in from Colorado. The sod is the exact same that was recently installed at Busch Stadium in St. Louis when the Cardinals replaced their outfield.

Barney, who is currently hard at work along with center fielder Brett Jackson with the Cubs hitting coaches in Arizona, is excited to get back to playing at the Friendly Confines.

"My teammates and I are excited to play on a new and improved playing surface at the greatest ballpark in baseball. It is great to see that our front office is doing all they can to make our field the best in the game."

Wrigley Field's infield was improved when a new drainage system was put in place a few years ago, and the crown was removed. Barney said he wanted to make it clear that the Wrigley grounds crew was not to blame for the hard field, but pointed to all the events that take place at the ballpark, specifically mentioning the concerts.

"It's hard on them to get this thing ready to play every day," he said. "They work really hard to do that. The truth is, it is that field that people say (bad things) about. But it's your baby. You've got to say it's the best field you've ever been on and just go from there."

Report: Giants interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for manager opening

Report: Giants interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for manager opening

The Giants' search for a successor to now-retired manager Bruce Bochy has led them to the North Side.

According to NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic, the Giants are interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for their own managerial opening. San Francisco's interest is intriguing, as Venable went to high school just outside San Francisco in nearby San Rafael. His father — Max Venable — played for the Giants from 1979-83. 

Venable also interviewed for the Cubs' manager job earlier this month, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that his interest is in the "organization in general." He is one of several internal candidates for the Cubs' job, along with bench coach Mark Loretta and front office assistant David Ross.

The Cubs also interviewed Joe Girardi and are set to meet with Astros bench coach Joe Espada and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.

Former Cub Mark Prior likely to take over as Dodgers pitching coach in 2020

mark_prior.jpg
USA TODAY

Former Cub Mark Prior likely to take over as Dodgers pitching coach in 2020

Mark Prior's big-league playing career unfortunately fizzled out due to recurring injury woes, but he's making a name for himself in the coaching realm.

With Dodgers current pitching coach Rick Honeycutt transitioning into a new role, Prior is expected to takeover the position starting next season.

Cubs fans know the story of Prior's playing career all too well. The Cubs drafted him second overall in the 2001, with Prior making his MLB debut just a season later. He went on to dominate in 2003, posting an 18-6 record, 2.43 ERA and 245 strikeouts in 30 starts, a season in which he made the All-Star Game and finished third in the NL Cy Young Award voting.

However, Prior's season ended on a sour note, as he was on the mound during the Steve Bartman incident in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. Prior exited the game with a 3-1 lead, but the Cubs surrendered seven more runs that inning, eventually falling to the Marlins 8-3 before losing Game 7 the next day. 

Prior struggled to stay healthy after 2003, eventually retiring in 2013 after multiple comeback attempts. While many blame his injury-riddled career on former Cubs manager Dusty Baker, Prior does not. 

While we can only wonder what could've been with Prior to the pitcher, it's good to see him still making an impact in baseball in some fashion.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.