Cubs

Cubs players react to Fowler's surprise arrival: 'Theo got us all'

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Cubs players react to Fowler's surprise arrival: 'Theo got us all'

MESA, Ariz. - The Cubs were just about to conclude their pre-workout meeting Thursday when something caught their eyes, causing a ripple of excitement to filter through the entire spring roster.

Dexter Fowler came strolling out onto the field alongside Theo Epstein, but it took a few moments for anybody - media or players - to realize what was happening.

"I gave Dex a hug and told him, 'Man, I'm gonna miss ya,'" David Ross said. "I still was off. I was like, 'Wait a minute...'

"Everybody was looking around kind of dumbfounded. Theo got us all. Theo pulled one over."

The rumors around the baseball world for the previous 48 hours was that Fowler was heading to the Baltimore Orioles on a three-year deal somewhere in the neighborhood of $35 million guaranteed.

Instead, the Cubs dealt Chris Coghlan to the Oakland A's Thursday morning, clearing room for Fowler's dramatic entrance.

[RELATED: Fowler reverses course, signs one-year deal with Cubs]

Several Cubs had even reached out to Fowler about his deal with the O's.

"I actually congratulated him because he didn't file for unemployment," Anthony Rizzo said. "I'm super excited to have him. Obviously he was one of my favorite guys last year on this team. It's a great addition for us.

"I told him maybe a week or two ago, 'Listen, if you sign back with us and you don't tell me and you just show up, I'm not gonna have that.' Obviously, no one knew. It was a pretty cool moment."

Joe Maddon gathered the players in a group huddle on top of the pitcher's mound on one of the practice fields and told them they were gonna have a "moment" before the workout began.

But with Maddon, that could mean anything - zoo animals, a magician, a spaceship, who knows?

"He told us not to look around and knowing me, I had to look around a little bit," Kyle Schwarber said. "I was like, 'Man, that really does look like Dexter walking down here. I thought he was with the Orioles.'

"Then you see him go on the field. That lifted my day by a lot right there. It was great to see him."

Jason Hammel thought it was an animal or a circus.

Ross thought they were pulling a prank on noted funnyman Munenori Kawasaki.

Rizzo had heard an inkling of a possible shocker, but didn't think it was Fowler.

"I ran into Theo [Wednesday]. He said, 'Hey I got a surprise for you guys,'" Rizzo said. "But when someone says a surprise, you think an elephant, a giraffe showing up.

"You don't know. That was the last thing on my mind or anyone's mind. Then Dexter rolls in. It's pretty cool."

[RELATED: Cubs deal Chris Coghlan to make room for Dexter Fowler signing]

The Cubs maintained not one player knew about Fowler's surprise re-signing. No media member had anything close to resembling a scoop. The world of Twitter and social media couldn't blow the lid off this one.

"Nobody knew," Fowler said. "It was crazy because I'm getting text messages. ... It was like breaking up with your girlfriend and they don't text you for a few days because they're mad. They saw that Baltimore stuff.

"Rizzo texted me [Wednesday] and was like, 'Hey man, congrats, you got a job. I'm gonna miss you.' And then you're sitting there and it's like, 'I can't wait to surprise you!'"

Fowler said he joked with Cubs teammates about a month ago that they were going to just show up one day and see a locker for Fowler with his Jordan gear in there.

"I was saying it's crazy how things happen, and then this happens," Fowler said.

Fowler was well-liked within the Cubs clubhouse and his teammates were asked often about their reaction to him still being unsigned with spring training starting around the league.

Cubs players - as well as Cubs Twitter - hoped for a reunion.

But nobody expected anything like this.

"I don't know that one guy didn't have a smile on their face today," Ross said. "Looking around, I saw a lot of happy guys on the team."

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett apparently held a grudge against Javy Baez for a year

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett apparently held a grudge against Javy Baez for a year

Baseball players don't forget grudges. Javy Baez and Reds pitcher Amir Garrett gave an example of that on Saturday.

Garrett struck out Baez in the seventh inning of the first game of the Cubs-Reds doubleheader. Garrett showed some excitement with the strikeout and then said something to Baez. They both started jawing at each other and suddenly the benches cleared.

At first glance, it looked like Garrett was a bit too excited to get a strikeout with no one on base. Turns out Baez had his own bit of swag for Garrett last year (Friday was the one-year anniversary) in the form of a grand slam at Wrigley Field.

This time Garrett got Baez and wanted to even things up a bit.

Things didn't get too feisty despite the benches clearing, but Anthony Rizzo did rush to Baez's side at some speed. This could be a matchup to keep an eye out for in the future.

Cubs Talk Podcast: The greatest Cubs moments at Great American Ballpark

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: The greatest Cubs moments at Great American Ballpark

Siera Santos, Kelly Crull, and David DeJesus go into the audio archives to break down the biggest games for the Cubs in Cincinnati.

David DeJesus gives us his top 3 ballgames with such gems as The Schwarber Game, The Kris Bryant Game, Starlin Castro’s debut, and Jake Arrieta’s second no hitter.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here: