Cubs

The art of leadership: How Cole Hamels is teaming with Jon Lester to run Cubs clubhouse

The art of leadership: How Cole Hamels is teaming with Jon Lester to run Cubs clubhouse

"He works out A LOT. Like 10 times a day," a Cubs staffer told me as we discussed a good time to set up a spring training feature with Cole Hamels. 

The 35-year-old lefty is oftentimes one of the first guys to arrive at the facility and there are plenty of days where he's one of the last to leave, as he gets in multiple workouts. It's no secret the guy who goes by "Hollywood" on Players Weekend, spends an inordinate amount of time keeping his body in tip-top shape. His routines and work out techniques are already trickling down and catching the eyes of his Cubs teammates.

David Bote, for example, said Hamels suggested egoscue exercises, to help with his posture and aid in putting his body back into balance.

"Instantaneous results. I really haven't put on weight, maybe 3 pounds. But, I'm apparently 2 inches taller. I was just measured!" Bote said, chuckling. "It's amazing the effects better posture has on your daily routine. I'm more open in the chest and I have a better range of motion." 

That's just one example of the 20 million reasons the Cubs thought it was worth picking up Hamels' $20 million option this offseason, as we got into more detail here:

How about Ian Happ? He not only loves hitting the golf course with Hamels, but also picking his brain about the Philadelphia Phillies teams that kept their winning core together for a window contention from 2007-11.

"[He's explained to me] how, when you have a group that's been together for 4 years, you don't let things get stale," Happ said. "How do you keep things fresh and be able to keep learning from each other and keep playing together and keep getting better together?

"That's really an interesting discussion because they had that in Philly. They were good for six years all together and he was part of that young core. So, to learn from him on how that's managed by veterans, how accountable you have to hold guys and in what situations you can be firm, is really intriguing."

Meanwhile there's Jon Lester, the other veteran southpaw who has been asked to step up with Hamels and take on more of a vocal leadership role this year with the team. It's a topic the two might have discussed over a recent round of golf or at the Coyotes game they took in together on Valentine's Day:

Hamels may not be David Ross or John Lackey (who would have never put on that sweater), but he is a guy Lester respects immensely and one who can push him on the mound and as that "vocal leader" the brass is searching for. 

"Like Jon said, it is our time to kind of be that sort of person," Hamels said. "I know we're ready to do so. It's kind of an honor. When you're able to play the game as long as we have, that's the role that you get thrust into. There's some respect that you have towards that, especially from the guys that came before you. It's something that I know Jon and I are really going to take as far as we possibly can and getting the best out of everyone."

It's a fine line to walk as a starting pitcher and not a guy in the lineup every day, but it's apparent Hamels and Lester already have the attention of the Cubs young core. And it helps that group has made it clear they want to be coached and held accountable.

"It's a tough generation in what we can do and say now," Hamels said. "I know from when I came up, it was a lot different, but it's about understanding how to deal with it, understanding personalities and also understanding constructive criticism. I think for all of us, if you want to win, if you want to be a world champion, an MVP, the Cy Young, you have to play to a certain level and you have to maintain it.

"If you want to be that, you have to act like it and then you have to hold up your end of the bargain for eight months. And if we can all push each other to do that, you're going to see some amazing things." 

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Cubs not working on Anthony Rizzo contract extension this winter

Cubs not working on Anthony Rizzo contract extension this winter

For all the talks of possible contract extensions involving Cubs this offseason, first baseman Anthony Rizzo's name has been mentioned less than other core players.

Well, that's because the Cubs haven't approached Rizzo with an extension, according to ESPN's Jesse Rogers

"The Cubs have informed us that they will not be offering Anthony an extension at this time," Marc Pollack, Rizzo's agent, told Rogers.

Rizzo was seen as a logical candidate to get a new deal this winter. He's the face of the franchise and one of the team's most valuable players on the field and in the clubhouse. Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer didn't comment on specifics, but he said Tuesday the organization is having extension talks with current players.

"We always take the position of not commenting on extensions, but are we having those discussions? Yes," Hoyer said at the Winter Meetings. "People focus so much on trades and free agent signings at these meetings, but all the agents are under the same roofs, also, and allows us to have those kinds of discussions. I'm not gonna specify who or what, but yeah certainly those conversations are ongoing."

If Rizzo isn't part of those discussions, shortstop Javier Báez is left as the most likely Cub to get extended this offseason. Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras have been involved in incessant trade rumors, and according to Rogers, the Cubs haven't approached Kyle Schwarber with a new contract, to this point.

Rizzo is signed through 2020 and the Cubs have a team option on him for 2021 worth $16.5 million. But the Cubs will likely go into next season not knowing if Rizzo will be around after 2021, complicating the long-term picture of the franchise.

Pollack added that Rizzo is open to being a Cub for life, for what it's worth. 

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: David Ross joins SportsTalk Live to discuss plans for his first season

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: David Ross joins SportsTalk Live to discuss plans for his first season

SportsTalk Live is on location in San Diego for Day 2 of the Winter Meeting.

0:00 - New Cubs manager David Ross joins Kap and Tony Andracki to talk about getting ready for his first season as a big league skipper and how he'll handle his former teammates.

10:00 - Rick Renteria joins Kap and Chuck Garfien to talk about the White Sox' big offseason plans. Plus he discusses how he might handle his lineup, Yasmani Grandal's impact and how this Sox team compares to the 2014 Cubs that he managed.

20:00 - Dave Wannstedt joins Kap to preview the Bears/Packers game Sunday at Lambeau.

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

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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