Cubs preparing to open new complex by 2014


Cubs preparing to open new complex by 2014

Friday, Feb. 18, 2011
Posted 4:14 p.m. Updated 8:51 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney

MESA, Ariz. The Cubs expect to be anchored in Arizona for decades to come and hope to break ground on their new complex this fall. The Ricketts family has toured every other facility in the Cactus League and plans to select an architectural firm within the next few weeks.

Board member Todd Ricketts visited Fitch Park on Friday, one day before the teams first official workout, and said that he anticipates no more legal or political hurdles in Mesa.

Were still talking to the city, getting the final details of our agreement, Ricketts said. But I think everythings lined up and were going to be here in Mesa for a long time.

The timeline isnt firm, though Ricketts said: Id hate to commit to 2013, but 2014 for sure.

The Cubs are looking to sell naming rights at a ballpark that will take visual cues from Wrigley Field and hold close to 15,000 fans. HoHoKam Stadiums current capacity is 13,100.

Ricketts said the family is focused on building the stadium first and hasnt gotten too deep into plans for developing what will be an adjacent Wrigleyville West retail complex.

With the Rockies and Diamondbacks opening a new site in Scottsdale, all 15 Cactus League teams are now located in the metropolitan Phoenix area, typically no more than an hour drive from one stadium to the next. The Cubs began play at the new HoHoKam Park in 1997 and regularly lead the league in attendance.

There has been a bit of a keep up with the Joneses mentality, Ricketts said. Were less about the glitz. Were more about the business. We want a facility thats going to be able to help us win.

At the same time, ownership is trying to find new financial mechanisms to renovate Wrigley Field, after last years initial proposal was met with overwhelming public resistance.

Thats kind of an ongoing process, Ricketts said. Im going to give a guess that some point in the next year or so were going to have something definitive on what were going to do with Wrigley. But I feel confident were going to get that renovation done. It needs to be done.

Waiting on Ramirez and Castro

Alfonso Soriano arrived at Fitch Park on Friday afternoon, leaving Aramis Ramirez and Starlin Castro as the only two Cubs yet to report at that point. Thats how Ramirez rolls, and he has the veteran status to back it up.

Castro is 20 years old and hasnt played a full season in the big leagues yet. It doesnt bother manager Mike Quade, who knows that Castro played winter ball and had several members of the organization visit him in the Dominican Republic.

Its great that these guys are here early, Quade said, but its a seven-week camp and we got guys here for a month (already). The dedication is incredible, and I love it, but at some point this really becomes a long year. You want guys peaking when April comes.

Had he not played any winter ballthen it might have been a different story, but no, its all good.

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

Cubs' David Ross responds to veteran umpire Joe West's comments about COVID-19

Cubs' David Ross responds to veteran umpire Joe West's comments about COVID-19

Cubs manager David Ross responded on Tuesday to comments made by umpire Joe West downplaying the severity of COVID-19.

In an interview with The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, West — considered high-risk for contracting the virus at age 67 — said “I don’t believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus. I believe it may have contributed to some of the deaths.”

“The one thing I've learned in this role that I have now and talking to guys — everybody's got different views on things in life,” Ross said. “There's a lot going on and some people, they take things more serious than others — it's no different than other topics in life.”

Over 130,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, according to The New York Times. Nearly 3 million people have been infected, and the country has seen recent case spikes in states home to Major League Baseball, including Florida, Texas, Arizona and Georgia.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

MLB has instituted numerous health and safety protocols this season, such as testing players and staff every other day, no spitting and social distancing from opponents before and after games. But teams have already experienced delays in getting their testing results, the type of “hiccup,” as Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant said, that cannot happen for the league’s plan to work.

MORE: Kris Bryant chimes in on testing concerns: 'We've got a big hill to climb'

The Cubs pushed back Tuesday's workouts because of a delay in getting their results from Sunday's tests. West's comments suggest that those involved in this season do not come from the same line of thinking.

"It's natural and when you're in this environment, you know that everybody is in a different boat mentally and so you try to set standards and follow the guidelines we’re given to make sure everybody is in check and doing the right thing," Ross said. "These are medical experts that are a lot smarter than I am that have set these things in place, and so we try to listen to those and keep it as safe as we possibly can."

West told Rosenthal he has no plans to opt out of this season and is going to be careful. Ross expressed confidence the veteran umpire will follow safety protocols this season.

"His internal thoughts are what they are," Ross said. "Those don't concern me as much as just the fact that he comes to work and is a professional and does his job to the ability that he can and under the guidelines that we’re gonna be provided."

West is second on the all-time list of most games umpired.


Cubs push back Tuesday workouts over delays in COVID-19 test results

Cubs push back Tuesday workouts over delays in COVID-19 test results

It’s no big deal, Cubs manager David Ross said.

But pushing back the team’s workout schedule Tuesday because of another delay in MLB’s coronavirus testing processes won’t do anything to ease concerns or calm nerves anywhere in baseball after several days of lags, lapses and breakdowns in early testing.

Ross said the Cubs have been told to expect the results from Sunday’s round of COVID-19 testing by Tuesday afternoon, and the schedule adjustment was made to help put players and staff at ease.

“I just wanted the players to feel good about coming in,” Ross said, “and once we get this on track and adjust [after] what happened last week, it’ll just put us in a better place rather than bringing guys in and being unsure. It was just better to wait on our end.”

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

The turnaround of results of intake testing has been a problem around the league, causing the Astros and Nationals to cancel workouts Monday and teams such as the A’s to put off conducting full-squad practices at all.

MLB in a statement Monday blamed the July 4 holiday for some of the delays and promised to fix the glitches quickly as players across baseball — including Cubs star Kris Bryant — blasted the league for failing to deliver on its baseline safety promise of frequent testing and quick results.

“I wanted to play this year because I felt that it would be safe and I would feel comfortable,” said Bryant, who considered opting out of playing this season with a newborn at home. “But, honestly, I don’t feel that way.”

MORE: Cubs' Kris Bryant chimes in on testing concerns: 'We've got a big hill to climb'

The Cubs were scheduled for another round of tests Tuesday. And their second workout site, in South Bend, has experienced more significant delays in getting started because of testing issues.

“This isn’t a huge deal,” Ross said of what the larger group at Wrigley Field dealt with Tuesday. “It seems a little bit bigger with what’s been going on with some teams the last day or so.

“We have to have a little bit of patience,” he added. “We can’t just crush MLB because this is new to them, too, and the testing facility.  … I just urge patience with everybody. They’ve assured me that things are getting on the right track and this is just a couple-hour pushback. It’s not a huge deal.”

Actually, MLB deserves any crushing it gets from anybody on this. The league had months to arrange for high-capacity testing and weeks to know how much testing would be needed and how fast it would have to be turned around.

And just how important that minimal safety precaution was to make this ramp-up and season possible was on full display daily during the last several weeks with constant reports of the alarming surges of COVID-19 cases across the country.

Bryant said Monday he believes MLB “absolutely” rushed the health-protocol part of the final agreement with the union to play, compared to the economic side of negotiations.

The Cubs are the only team in at least the National League without a known positive test so far, and Tuesday’s delay was the first since the team opened camp Friday.

“Guys look good. They’re in a good place physically,” Ross said. “We’re trying to keep them in a good place mentally. That’s the challenge in all this. You hear guys’ comments. You hear them speaking out. But they’re still showing up and getting really good work in.”

But nobody knows how deep the anxieties run each player, in this camp or any other in baseball. And through all his conversations with players, Ross admits he can’t know if anyone will yet decide to opt out and go home.

“This is a daily process we’re going through,” he said. “You’re waiting on the test results, and even myself, you have a little bit of anxiety the night before when you’re waiting on these test results to come in. That’s the world we’re living in right now.

“It’s extremely daunting mentally on the players, and they have to perform and get work in on top of the [concerns].”

He said for now he’s not concerned about any Cubs opting out.

“But that could change within a day,” he quickly added. “That’s where we’re at in the world and in the world of baseball.”