Cubs

MLB draft: Cubs keeping Brady Aiken on their radar screen

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MLB draft: Cubs keeping Brady Aiken on their radar screen

The Cubs are keeping Brady Aiken on their radar screen.

Actually drafting Aiken – who’s now recovering from Tommy John surgery – would be a huge gamble. Last year’s No. 1 overall pick couldn’t reach an agreement with the Houston Astros amid serious medical concerns that haven’t disappeared.

Theo Epstein’s front office plays the odds, viewing college position players as the safest bets and knowing that history shows pitching can come from anywhere in the draft. The Cubs have used first-round picks on hitters – Albert Almora, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber – in each of the last three drafts.

But the Cubs haven’t completely ruled out Aiken as they gear up for next week’s draft meetings in Chicago, trying to figure out what to do with the No. 9 overall pick on June 8.

[MORE: Kris Bryant, Cubs make their All-Star push]

The Cubs had Aiken as the No. 1 player on their board coming out of Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego last year. The 18-year-old lefty is a high-risk, high-reward pitcher with enough potential that it’s unrealistic to think he will still be available when the Cubs make their second pick at No. 47 overall.

“We haven’t actually – on purpose – talked about it too much,” amateur scouting director Matt Dorey said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “Just because you get caught up in the innuendo and the rumors. We had a great relationship with Brady and his family last year. We were proud of the work that we did – and our area scout did – to get to know them.

“At the appropriate time here in the next week, when we sit down in a draft room and we really start to evaluate the players at the top of this draft, his name will come up, because it was literally a ‘1-1’ talent that didn’t sign.

“It would be very irresponsible to not have a conversation with our doctors, with Brady and his family, just to get an updated breakdown of where he’s at in his rehab, where he’s at mentally, so that he – and the player that he was pre-injury – is allowed to compete against the players that will be on our board this year.

“That’s fair to the player. That’s fair to the Cubs. It’s fair to our fan base to make sure that we just don’t take the easy way out and say: ‘He got hurt, he’s out of our picture.’”

Aiken publicly disclosed his torn UCL and elbow-reconstruction surgery through an essay for The Players’ Tribune – Derek Jeter’s digital publishing venture – in late March. On his Twitter account, he posted a photo from his hospital bed, giving the thumbs-up sign.

“We’ll just take all the information,” Dorey said. “We’ll let our doctors really kind of dig into the medicals, paint a pretty clear picture of what his rehab would look like. And then we’ll just compare the player that we scouted last year against the guys that we have a ton of information on this year – and let them kind of slug it out as magnets on the board.”

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The Cubs don’t have an agenda and will take the best player available. Period. One year after taking an Indiana University catcher/outfielder with the No. 4 overall pick and giving him a below-slot deal ($3.125 million signing bonus), people are talking about whether or not Schwarber could help the Cubs in a pennant race this season.

“It’s not as clear-cut at the top of the draft this year,” Epstein said. “Some of the higher-profile talents got injured, and it’s just one of those draft classes that’s a little bit all over the place, which makes it more difficult, but also creates opportunity.

“We surprised some people last year and we like who we got. I think it’s an opportunity to do that again. When the sort of standout talents aren’t as obvious, it frees you up to take some risks here and there, too, and trust your instincts.”

Another player the Cubs scouted heavily last year – East Carolina University right-hander Jeff Hoffman – fell to the Toronto Blue Jays at the ninth pick after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Whether or not the Cubs are really serious about Aiken – or simply doing due diligence – it’s important to remember that they probably won’t have this kind of access to the draft during the next several years as the big-league team becomes more and more competitive.

“We’ve had a lot of discussion about: Hopefully we’re not picking this high ever again,” Dorey said. “This might be one of our last opportunities to really like go and shoot for the best player, the best impact, because as you start to win, you start to fall down the first round. We (might) not be looking at this quality a player in a long time, from the draft perspective.”

Kyle Hendricks takes in a Blackhawks game with... Bastian Schweinsteiger?

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NBC Sports Chicago

Kyle Hendricks takes in a Blackhawks game with... Bastian Schweinsteiger?

A Cubs pitcher taking in a Blackhawks game in a suite is nothing special, but doing so with a World Cup winner is... different.

Kyle Hendricks was spotted by the cameras of Thursday's Blackhawks-Coyotes broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago. The guy he was standing next to was none other than Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, a World Cup with Germany and Champions League winner with Bayern Munich.

Hendricks is known for being reserved on the mound and in his interviews with the media. Meanwhile, Schweinsteiger was filmed yelling "Bear Down" in the hallway of Toyota Park after a Fire practice earlier in the day.

There's no telling what inspired Schweinsteiger to do this, but he has definitely embraced Chicago sports teams since joining the Fire in March of 2017.

Makes you wonder what Hendricks and Schweinsteiger were talking about. Best places to get brats in Chicago?

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...