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Cubs: Joe Maddon hears both sides of Bryan Price meltdown

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Cubs: Joe Maddon hears both sides of Bryan Price meltdown

PITTSBURGH – Joe Maddon knew Bryan Price before the Cincinnati Reds manager went viral with a bleeping meltdown that dropped 77 F-bombs on reporters. 

The Cubs didn’t give Maddon a five-year, $25 million contract just to manage the team for nine innings at a time. They also needed a ringmaster for the Wrigleyville circus.

The Cubs wanted someone to be a public face of the franchise, selling their vision to the fans. A big personality could entertain the easily distractible Chicago media, deflecting pressure from young players already viewed as saviors.

Maddon isn’t paranoid or defensive and his freewheeling style appears to be working for a team that left for Cincinnati after Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. 

“At the end of the day, we’re not trying to conceal weaponry being sold to Iran,” Maddon said. “I don’t view it that way. I hope I never do.”

[MORE: Cubs: Javier Baez returning from leave of absence]

Maddon did grunt work for decades before morphing into a celebrity manager. Price played for Maddon in 1985 and 1986 in Midland, Texas, at a Double-A affiliate for the California Angels.

Price went to the University of California, Berkeley. He never pitched in the big leagues before becoming a pitching coach with the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks.

“‘BP’ — when I had him — had a great pickoff move, because a lot of guys got on first base,” Maddon joked. “But even back then, he was a joy to be around. Very bright, analytical in a way. Great conversationalist. Very funny. So whatever motivated that, I’m sure we’ll talk about it at some point.”

Maddon called to say congratulations when Price got promoted from Cincinnati pitching coach to replace Dusty Baker, who had just guided the Reds to 90 wins in 2013 and their third playoff appearance in four seasons.

The pressure points are obvious inside a news cycle that goes 24/7/365. The Reds lost 86 games last season and Price only has one more year left on his contract after this season. Cincinnati had lost seven of its last eight games by the time Price blew up during Monday’s pregame media session.

“It was kind of amusing in some ways, but don’t be deceived,” Maddon said. “It could happen to any one of us.

“Don’t think you’re immune. I’m totally aware of that.”

[RELATED: Cubs need Jon Lester to really get rolling]

Maddon also clearly loves the attention and the interaction. He doesn’t look at it as a chore. He also has instant credibility after his successful run with the Tampa Bay Rays.

“I enjoy it,” Maddon said. “Sometimes, you ask me (bleep) that I haven’t thought about. And that’s a good thing. Then I’ll have to give you an answer that glosses over it. But I’m thinking to myself: (Bleep), I got to think about that a little more.”

Instead of doing it behind closed doors, Price unloaded on C. Trent Rosecrans, a respected Reds beat writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer, in a rant that lasted almost six minutes.

Last weekend, Rosecrans had reported All-Star catcher Devin Mesoraco wasn’t with the team during a game in St. Louis and unavailable to pinch-hit against the Cardinals. The news outlet had previously reported Mesoraco and Tucker Barnhart were on the same flight as an Enquirer reporter. Meaning Price felt like he didn’t get a chance to tell catcher Kyle Skipworth that he’d be returning to the minors before the Barnhart news broke.

When dealing with sensitive information, Maddon said: “That’s up to me to not give you something that I don’t want to reveal."

“If you get it on your own, then what am I going to do?” Maddon said. “My job is to not give it up. Your job is to find it out. And that’s cool. At the end of the day, what does that mean? I keep going back to the barroom. It’s great barroom banter, man.”

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Maddon said he first started his personal Twitter account to promote the Rays — not himself — and he’s now up to 229,000 followers. We can all agree that social media’s relentless nature — and the obsession with what’s next — would drive anyone crazy.

“At some point, it’s oversaturated with nonsense,” Maddon said. “How much nonsense do you want to hear? I don’t really want to know about everybody else’s thoughts all the time. I really don’t. That would be the next level, like if I eventually become a mind reader.

“That would really suck. Because if you know too much, man, that would be awful. It’s good that you don’t know everything. So all this stuff is getting to the point now where I don’t even know: What would be the next level of communication?

“Is it possible, outside of reading someone else’s mind? I don’t know. And I don’t want to read any of your minds at all under any circumstances. Because once you get in there, you may never get out. And you could be contaminated for the rest of your life.”

Kris Bryant is ready for fatherhood '[I was] put on this earth to be a dad'

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USA TODAY

Kris Bryant is ready for fatherhood '[I was] put on this earth to be a dad'

Suffice to say Kris Bryant is budding with anticipation for becoming a father.

Bryant and his wife, Jessica, are expecting their first child — a baby boy due in April. During Friday night’s Cubs-Padres broadcast, the third baseman shared his excitement for fatherhood with reporter Taylor McGregor

“I think this is really what I’ve been put on this Earth to do, is be a dad,” Bryant said, laughing. “Obviously I play baseball pretty good, but I’m just so excited [for] this new journey with my wife and my family. Honestly, I think this is going to be one of the best years of my life.”

Bryant’s son is due shortly after Opening Day, but the Cubs will play two spring training games in Las Vegas — Bryant’s hometown — on March 7-8. He told McGregor one of Jessica’s last doctor’s appointments is around the same time, so Bryant will get one last visit in before Baby Bryant is born.

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How Dusty Baker inspired former Cub Adam Greenberg after scary head injury

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AP

How Dusty Baker inspired former Cub Adam Greenberg after scary head injury

Adam Greenberg’s baseball career was cut short by a scary head injury 15 years ago. But with the help of Dusty Baker, he found the motivation to transition to his post-baseball life.

Greenberg made his MLB debut with the Cubs on July 9, 2005, and Baker called upon the then 24-year-old to pinch-hit in the ninth inning against the Marlins. On the first pitch Greenberg saw in the big leagues, Marlins reliever Valerio De Los Santos hit him in the back of the head with a 92-mph fastball.

Greenberg was concussed from the incident, suffered from vertigo and vision problems, and battled depression. The Cubs released him in 2006 and he caught on with the Royals and later the Dodgers in 2007 — which is when Baker reappears in the story. From MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart:

A couple of years following the incident, in 2007, Baker got a letter from a fan requesting a baseball card be signed. In the letter, the person told Baker that Greenberg had been released by the Royals and his baseball career was in jeopardy. Baker tracked down Greenberg and left him the voice mail that served as his motivation for a post-baseball life.

“It was so genuine and from the heart,” Greenberg said. “It put me in tears the first time, but it was the motivation and inspiration I needed to get up and keep going. And since then, he’s been somebody that’s been near and dear to me."

It's unfortunate Greenberg couldn’t experience a long big-league career, but Baker inspired him and helped him move forward post-baseball. According to McTaggart, Greenberg started a nutrition company and sold it 10 years later. He also ran for state senate in Connecticut in 2019 and is currently a baseball analyst for the ACC Network.

Greenberg’s career effectively ended moments after it began, but 2005 wasn’t the last time he stepped in a big-league batters’ box. In 2012, fans started an online petition to get him one last at-bat — and his career came full circle. The Marlins signed him to a one-day contract on Oct. 2, 2012, and he pinch-hit that same day against the Mets.

Greenberg struck out on three pitches, but Baker’s voicemail left a mark on his life. Seeing him enjoy success outside of baseball is as heartwarming as it gets.