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Cubs host National Play Campaign at Wrigley

Event promotes importance of healthy lifestyle to youth baseball players
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- It was the Cubs' training staff that delivered the big hit Wednesday morning at Wrigley Field as hosts of the National Play Campaign.

Nearly 30 local youth baseball players, ages 14-17, participated in the two-hour event that promotes the importance of children living a healthy and active lifestyle.

CHICAGO -- It was the Cubs' training staff that delivered the big hit Wednesday morning at Wrigley Field as hosts of the National Play Campaign.

Nearly 30 local youth baseball players, ages 14-17, participated in the two-hour event that promotes the importance of children living a healthy and active lifestyle.

Jake Arrieta capped the afternoon by addressing the kids with tips for eating healthy and paying careful attention to what they put inside their bodies.

"I like to read labels to see how many calories there are, how much fat and especially how much added sugar," said Arrieta.

The kids then had their own Q&A with the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner, asking his advice on a range of topics, including dietary supplements, how to handle college recruiters and Pilates.

"I've been a part of this program for a long time and today has been the most special," said Mark O'Neal, the Cubs' director of medical services, and president of the Professional Athletic Trainers Society.

"Jake took the time to meet with these kids and it was real talk. He didn't hold back."

Donald Hooton Jr. also addressed the group, warning of the dangers and risks involved with taking anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, substances that contributed to the death of his 17-year-old brother, Taylor, in 2003 and led to the creation of the Taylor Hooton Foundation's mission to eradicate performance-enhancing drug use among teens.

The youth players were divided into groups that rotated through "Hoot's Chalk Talk" stations located on the field. Each station was headed by a member of the Cubs' training staff.

Assistant athletic trainers Ed Halbur and Matt Johnson led a batting-practice session inside the visitor's batting-cage area under the right-field bleachers, and ran fielding drills in center field.

Head athletic trainer PJ Mainville reaffirmed the day's message to avoid taking performance-enhancing drugs, tips for strength and conditioning and the importance of making healthy food choices.

"You guys are old enough to take responsibility for the food you put in your body," said Mainville. "Shop for food choices that have five ingredients or less -- that's all you need.

"Stay to the outside aisle at the grocery store where you'll find the fruits, cheeses, eggs, milk and the deli. Stay away from the overly processed food -- stay out of the center aisles."

Brian Corbin is a Real-Time correspondent for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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