Today’s first item of business is to wish Julie a happy birthday. We’ll be having a surprise party with cake and punch in the break room at 10:30. Anyone with a few extra minutes before that should come to help hang streamers and blow up balloons.
Next up today is Anthony Rizzo. He’s the future at first base for the Cubs, and the front office thinks it’s time for him to be an example of enduring fortitude or something.
‘What we talked about with Anthony stays between us,’’ he (Jed Hoyer) said. ‘‘In general, you don’t want to take away a player’s personality. You want them to show emotions. But at the same time, you have a responsibility to the team. If you’re not going well, you’ve got to be able to be unflappable and not show your emotions. I think that’s a fine line, but that’s something that’s learned over the year. And it’s not something that every player has right away in the big leagues.’’
As the Cubs have traded away veterans each of the past two years, leaving the team without much leadership. Hoyer thinks Anthony is the guy to fill that void.
‘‘I totally believe in [Rizzo’s] character, and I believe he’s going to grow up to be a guy that’s leading the young guys,’’ said Hoyer, who traded for him both as a GM in San Diego and then with the Cubs. ‘‘But I think he’ll learn from what happened last year, and I think those things will keep getting better and better with time.’’
While we’re talking about core players, Ric(h)k(y) Renteria got into the business of defending Starlin Castro yesterday.
“I know there’s been a lot made about a particular play with a flyball and a guy tagging up,” Renteria said. “The other morning, I was working out in the gym and I’m watching ESPN or whatever (and) they’re showing Larry Walker giving a ball to a fan on the right-field line with a runner on third base and a guy tagging up. They’re showing multiple players that have done that over the course of their career.
“But yet this is the biggest thing that’s ever happened in the game of baseball – Starlin Castro getting into a situation where he caught a ball and the guy happened to score from third base.
“It happens to the best of them. We just don’t want it to happen as often. (But) unfortunately for this young man, everybody decided that he was the one to pick on.”
Could it be? The Cubs manager is a voice of reason and sanity? That might be the best birthday present Julie gets today.