Cubs

What new bench coach Mark Loretta brings to the 2019 Cubs

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AP Photos

What new bench coach Mark Loretta brings to the 2019 Cubs

Mark Loretta was happy in San Diego. And as icy wind whipped snow across downtown Chicago on Saturday morning -- where Day 2 of Cubs Convention had just gotten started -- it’s easy to understand why. 

Loretta, who had spent the last decade as a special assistant in the San Diego Padres front offices, was hired as the Cubs’ newest bench coach back on January 3rd. His familiarity with the Cubs front office goes all the way back to 2006, when he played for the Boston Red Sox under Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. He was then hired by the Hoyer-run Padres after he retired in 2009. 

A Northwestern alum, Loretta had never thought about leaving Southern California - until the Cubs came calling. 

“I think it was just a really unique opportunity for a lot of reasons,” he said. “You know, obviously the Chicago connection, the team, Joe, so many factors that I thought made it a good fit. I always felt that I would want to get back in a uniform at some point. I didn’t know when it would happen, but when this opportunity came up my family was very excited about it and it seemed like the right fit at the right time.”  

Loretta joins a Cubs team that, as you’ve surely heard by now, is returning most of last year’s roster. Though they won 95 games last summer, their late-season stumble soaked up most of the fans’ goodwill. Going 0-2 in home clinchers, while scoring two runs in the process, will leave a bitter taste in most anyone’s mouth. 

“I think the silver lining of last year is that this team is really motivated,” he added. “From the front office all the way down, I’ve talked to just about every one of them either in person or on the phone, and they’re stung by last year. There were some tears in the clubhouse after the Wild Card game.” 

“I think these guys realize that they can’t just show up and be this dynasty, even though they’re extremely talented. It’s not about changing for me, it’s about growing. These guys need to take the next step and really understand what it takes for the long haul.”  

Bench coach jobs are a bit like the White House Chief of Staff in that there’s never really a set job description. During his time in San Diego, he had a hand in the Padres’ scouting, player development, and community relations. Here, Loretta sees the role as an intermediary between the players and staff; he and new quality assurance coach Chris Denorfia are already neck deep in day-to-day planning of Spring Training. Despite only being here for a little over two weeks, Loretta’s already made an impression on many. 

“I watched him growing up, and I got to talk to him a little bit,” David Bote said. “He called me a couple weeks ago to kind of get to know each other a little bit. He’s awesome, I think he fits really well into what we have going here. I don’t really know his coaching style, but I don’t think there are going to be any issues based on our conversations. I think he’s really into what we’re doing and I’m really excited to see what he brings.” 

The elephant in the room, of course, is that manager Joe Maddon only has one year left on his current contract. He enters 2019 with about as little job security as he’s ever had in Chicago. Though his last two bench coaches have found managerial jobs of their own in D.C. and Baltimore, Maddon’s uncertain future only adds fuel to the potential-replacement fire. 

“I think you can read things into it, but as far as I’m concerned, that was not on my radar,” Loretta said. “It was nothing obviously that I talked to Jed or Theo about, so again, I understand the speculation - you can start adding things together. But again, Joe is a huge reason why I was interested in taking this job. I think he’s one of the best managers in the game for sure.”

“I look really forward to learning from him next year.” 

Cubs put Kyle Hendricks on 10-Day IL

Cubs put Kyle Hendricks on 10-Day IL

On Saturday, the Cubs announced that they are placing starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks on the 10-day I.L.with right shoulder inflammation. 

Following Hendricks' injury, the Cubs recalled right-handed pitcher Rowan Wick from Triple-A. Wick will be available on Saturday night and beyond, as the Cubs continue their four-game series against the Dodgers. 

This obviously a significant blow for the Cubs, as Hendricks is the team leader in innings pitched (88.1).

Prior to his loss on Friday night, Hendricks had won three straight outings, giving up less than 3 ER in each game. 

The Cubs have plenty of options to replace Hendricks for the time being. With an off day until Monday, they could keep their rotation intact. Tyler Chatwood and Mike Montgomery are options, and the Cubs could push Hendricks next start back to by going with a spot starter. 

Stellar pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay is another intriuging option, and he is coming off of a great outing with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. On Fridaym he racked up 9 strikeouts, giving up 8 hits and 2 ER. 

The 24-year old Alzolay is ranked as the Cubs' fourth-overall prospect and the Hendricks injury could open the door for Alzolay to get called up.

The more likely scenario is that Cubs manager Joe Maddon chooses to use Chatwood. 

Chatwood is the only pitcher outside of the everyday rotation to have made a start this year and is the most obvious stopgap solution until we get further updates on Hendricks' status. 

Cubs Talk Podcast: Prank wars and life as a reliever with Brandon Kintzler

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Prank wars and life as a reliever with Brandon Kintzler

Kelly Crull sits down with Cubs reliever Brandon Kintzler, and the veteran right-hander covers many topics, including his ongoing prank war with fellow reliever Steve Cishek (2:50), his growing role as a leader and mentor inside the clubhouse (4:00), and Tommy Hottovy's impact on the pitching staff so far (10:30).

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Cubs Talk Podcast

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