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Zobrist stops by Cubs camp ... just to visit

@MLBastian
March 3, 2020

MESA, Ariz. -- Down a hallway from the Cubs' locker room, Ben Zobrist was greeted with a series of hugs from former teammates and coaches on Tuesday morning. His arrival was at the invitation of manager David Ross and it was a pleasant surprise for everyone else. "He was actually

MESA, Ariz. -- Down a hallway from the Cubs' locker room, Ben Zobrist was greeted with a series of hugs from former teammates and coaches on Tuesday morning. His arrival was at the invitation of manager David Ross and it was a pleasant surprise for everyone else.

"He was actually the first person I saw when I walked in," Kris Bryant said with a smile. "I heard his voice and I was like, 'That's a nice familiar voice right there.' Obviously, we'd love to have him here. Definitely, he can teach us a lot about the game, too. I don't know what he's doing here."

With that, Bryant smirked.

"I don't know if he's trying out or what," he said.

No, as Ross made very clear to reporters, the 38-year-old Zobrist is not with the Cubs for any kind of tryout (even if that second-base job remains up for grabs). Like former pitcher John Lackey last week, Zobrist is in camp as a guest of the team. He will be on hand all week, allowed to put on a uniform and lending a hand however he sees fit.

"He's here just observing, hanging out with the boys," Ross said. "He's just taking it in here, being around family. It'll be nice to have a World Series MVP roaming around. That never hurts anybody."

Zobrist did not meet with the media on Tuesday, but there has been no official news of him declaring retirement. He has spent parts of 14 seasons in the Major Leagues, winning a World Series ring with the Royals in 2015 and again with the Cubs in '16 (when he won that MVP Award mentioned by Ross). Last year, Zobrist appeared in only 47 games for Chicago, as a family situation pulled him away from the field for most of the season.

Ross was asked if he thought Zobrist could still play.

"I know if he still wanted to play, he could play, yeah," Ross said. "I'd give him a uniform and put him in the lineup if they'd let me."

That last line was made in jest. Really, Ross just wants Zobrist to be another veteran voice to potentially impact the current group.

"He's done some pretty special things in this game, so having him here is really amazing, man," Ross said. "He's fun. He puts a smile on my face. He gave me some nice feedback after the meeting today. He said it was nice to see me up there. Zo's great."

The Bryant and Rizzo show
One day after Bryant and Anthony Rizzo were mic'd up for ESPN's broadcast of the Cubs' game against the Angels, the duo's in-game comedy routine remained a topic in the clubhouse.

"They did a really good job," Cubs veteran Daniel Descalso said with a laugh. "I wasn't quite sure how it was going to go with them being mic'd up in the box and in the field and talking back and forth. But I thought they did a really good job. They were really entertaining."

Bryant said the experience made it "one of the most fun games I've played in baseball," adding that Spring Training was the perfect environment to really have fun with it. The third baseman did not think that being mic'd up during a game was feasible in the regular season.

"Probably not," Bryant said. "I'm just thinking of like, someone in the infield doing it and talking and they boot a ball and you lose the game. Imagine that. As much as it's awesome and fans love it, I just don't know if it would work."

Worth noting
• After an early-spring bout with the flu, left-hander José Quintana made his Cactus League debut on Tuesday with two innings against the Rockies. The lefty tested out his revised changeup (he now uses a four-seam grip) and worked on a cutter with mixed results. Quintana was charged with three runs on three hits (one home run) with no walks and one strikeout.

"The first time, I wanted to throw some strikes, and see how my body was feeling," Quintana said. "I feel great. I think at the start, I felt more like bullpen mode. After that, I started to pitch and make some pitches and hit my spots good. Other than that, I feel great for the first time. I enjoyed being back on the mound."

• Ross said that an MRI exam on right-hander Manny Rodriguez's throwing arm revealed a Grade 2 strain of the pitcher's biceps. Ross said there was no established timetable for return right now, as the Cubs' medical and training staffs are in the process of mapping out a rehab program.

"Pretty good news, all things considered," Ross said.

• Lefty reliever Brad Wieck resumed playing catch (up to 70 feet) on Monday and plans on continuing to play light catch on flat ground throughout this week.

Wieck, who underwent a cardiac ablation on Feb. 24 to address an atrial flutter, said he is scheduled to have a follow-up exam with a cardiologist next Monday. Wieck is awaiting medical clearance to resume running, lifting weights and to build back up to throwing off a mound.

Up next
Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel is scheduled to make his Cactus League debut on Wednesday, when the Reds host Chicago at 2:05 p.m. CT at Goodyear Ballpark. Tyler Chatwood, who is vying for the fifth-starter job with the Cubs, will start opposite Cincinnati righty Tejay Antone. The game will be available on MLB.TV and Marquee Sports Network.

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.