Cubs

Marlon Byrd steps back into the arena

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Marlon Byrd steps back into the arena

MESA, Ariz. It took two sittings, nine hours total, for Marlon Byrd to get the tattoo on his right arm. The words are from Theodore Roosevelts The Man in the Arena, a 1910 speech Byrd reads every year before the season starts.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood

Byrd wanted a reminder, which he paired with an image of a coliseum. It was part of an offseason makeover in which the Cubs outfielder lost around 20 pounds after seeing a specialist in New York.

Byrd who has long been obsessive about his preparation and routine discovered food allergies and symptoms of celiac disease.

The transformation really happened all around the Cubs organization. Theo Epstein is in charge of the front office, Dale Sveum is the third manager in the past three years and Byrd is one of a few established veterans still remaining.

I have to go play the game, thats it, Byrd said. Ive trained all offseason, so I dont have to think about (anything else except going) all out. For this organization, a sense of urgency? No, we have everything in place.

(Chairman) Tom Ricketts made the moves right after the season ended and brought the new regime in. Youve seen what (Theos) done, everything hes put in place. Those guys are workers. Were going to have a staff where you come in (and) go play, thats it.

Its a different feeling around here, and its a good feeling.

This is a team that waved goodbye to Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena, who combined for 57 homers and 173 RBIs last season. Sveum plans to bat David DeJesus leadoff, and probably Bryan LaHair cleanup, but its wide open after that.

An All-Star in 2010, Byrd never really got on track last season, which was interrupted for six weeks after a fastball fractured his face at Fenway Park. He finished at .276 with nine homers and 35 RBIs. Hes another potential bounce-back player on a roster filled with them.

Put me in the lineup, thats it, Byrd said. Im going to dictate where I am by the way Im hitting.

Byrd is entering the final season of a three-year, 15 million contract, and he will be pushed by outfield prospect Brett Jackson. Its time to enter the arena again.

I dont want to go anywhere, Byrd said. I came to Chicago for a reason and that was to help them win. I havent done that yet. I have a lot to accomplish here and I just have to go out there and do what I can to help this team win. And if they want me here, Im definitely going to be here.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Jon Lester returns to the Cubs in typical Lester fashion

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Jon Lester returns to the Cubs in typical Lester fashion

David Haugh, Matt Zahn, Jim Litke and Steve Wilkos join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Steve talks about the new season of "The Steve Wilkos Show". Plus, he talks about being a Chicago sports fan in the Northeast and his love for the Cubs and Bears.

9:30- The Cubs fall to the Dodgers but Jon Lester pitches well in his return.

14:00- Addison Russell begins his minor league assignment. When should the Cubs bring him back up to the majors?

20:30- JJ Stankevitz joins Kap from Halas Hall to discuss the Bears' plans for the draft.

23:00- Robbie Gould wants out of San Francisco. Could he be dealt this weekend during the draft?

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

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Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Jon Lester returns and Addison Russell's future with the Cubs

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Jon Lester returns and Addison Russell's future with the Cubs

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki discuss Lester's return, the upcoming road trip, plus Addison Russell talks about his suspension.

01:00 Lester looked good in his return to the rotation

03:30 Bullpen getting help from unexpected sources

05:00 Was Almora's hair the reason he wasn't hitting homers?

06:45 Kris Byrant looking better at the plate

09:30 Cubs get ready for game at Arizona and Seattle

10:30 Addison Russell's future with the Cubs

18:30 Will Russell be with the Cubs on May 3rd when eligible?

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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