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Jason Heyward survives attack from swarm of bees during Cubs game

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Jason Heyward survives attack from swarm of bees during Cubs game

MESA, Ariz. — This looked like one of Joe Maddon’s gimmicks gone wild, an Easter Sunday swarm of bees surrounding Jason Heyward in center and chasing the Cubs outfielder all the way out to the warning track.  

Heyward jumped onto the fence at Sloan Park, trying to escape, but that didn’t work, either. He just kept swatting his glove through the air, brushing away the bees buzzing at his beard and waving around his blue Cubs hat. 

Heyward estimated he got stung at least 10 times in front of a sellout crowd, the TV cameras and a social-media audience that loves stuff like this. Fans sitting on the berm wrapped themselves underneath blankets during a bizarre third-inning scene that interrupted the game for several minutes.

“It was no stunt,” Heyward said after a 12-9 loss to the Seattle Mariners. “It was real.”

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This came two days after the Cubs manager had his players pose for pictures with two cubs from Bearizona Wildlife Park, near the end of a Camp Maddon that has featured all sorts of diversions, from mimes to karaoke to hippie costumes.

Heyward had moved from right field to center when Dexter Fowler left the game after feeling tightness on his left side. The Cubs downplayed it and didn’t have a postgame update on Fowler, who did feel good enough to homer in his first at-bat. So the bees attacked Heyward.

“I wasn’t thinking to get out of there until it just got crazy,” Heyward said. “I just tried to get out of the way. I should have went over the fence.

“It’s OK. Not allergic.”

Heyward — who usually comes across as calm and cool and older than 26 — simply shrugged off the entire episode. But a plague descending upon a player at the beginning of an eight-year, $184 million contract sort of fit into the sometimes surreal vibe surrounding this team in spring training.

[MORE: Where things stand with Javier Baez and Cubs roster]

For Sunday's workout, Cubs players and coaches dressed like 1970s gym teachers with tight shorts and knee-high socks. The bees ultimately forced Cubs relievers to walk across the grass after the third inning and move into the right-field bullpen with the Mariners.

“That was wild — I’ve never had a delay like that before,” said pitcher Jason Hammel, who gave up two of Robinson Cano’s three homers and was charged with nine runs in 4.1 innings. “I had no idea. But once I figured out what was going on, you could see from the whole left-field line all the way out to center – they were everywhere.”

Now the question becomes: Can strength/conditioning coach Tim Buss find a beekeeper suit in time for Monday’s workout?     

“The fact that Heyward isn’t swollen beyond belief right now — I don’t know how he made it out of that,” Hammel said.

 

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.