Joining Cubs feels like home for Kipnis

February 15th, 2020

MESA, Ariz. -- As made his way through the Cubs' complex on Saturday morning, the veteran second baseman kept seeing reminders of Chicago's World Series triumph four years ago. Kipnis was, of course, on the other side of that Fall Classic with Cleveland.

"I'm trying to look and see how many 2016 things are around this place that I'm just going to be staring at," Kipnis said with a smirk. "You know what? It's fun. It was four years ago. The page has been turned a while ago. It was a great memory for that time.

"A little bittersweet kind of seeing all this stuff, but now I don't have to hate the 'Go Cubs Go' song."

Kipnis was at the Cubs' facility on Saturday to go through his physical, which is the final step in completing his Minor League contract with the North Siders. The pact has not been officially announced by the Cubs, but Kipnis will be in camp as a non-roster invitee, trying to win an Opening Day roster spot for second base.

The Cubs will be taking a close look this spring at top prospect Nico Hoerner, but there is a chance he begins the year with Triple-A Iowa for more development. David Bote will also be in the mix at second base, along with veteran Daniel Descalso. Like Descalso, Kipnis hits from the left side, and the Cubs may look to utilize him against right-handed pitching.

After nine seasons as a core member of the Tribe, Kipnis also brings some veteran presence and plays with the kind of edge that could benefit the Cubs.

"It's exciting to get veteran big leaguers that have been in big situations, put up good numbers," Cubs manager David Ross said. "I look at him as a guy that's coming in and competing for a second base job, a spot that we've got a lot of good players at. He's got a great resume. ... I'm a fan from playing against him and seeing him on the other side."

It has been well-documented that Kipnis grew up outside Chicago in Northbrook, Ill., and was a Cubs fan as a kid. His circle of family and friends are also fans of the team, which led to a flurry of texts and calls when word spread that he was considering signing with the Cubs. Kipnis laughed when asked if it was hard to get unbiased opinions from his friends as he was weighing his options.

"It wasn't hard. It just wasn't possible," Kipnis said. "They were telling me to take a deal, take a cut, take whatever, just get here. Very selfish. Some of my good friends, if they see this, they'll be laughing, because they know I'm talking directly to them.

"It made sense. It did. It really did. I didn't fully understand it until it was announced and my phone started blowing up and I realized just how many people this impacted around my life, and how many people still -- friends and family -- still live in Chicago. It's going to be exciting."

Worth noting
• During Saturday's workout, Ross helped out during infield drills. The Cubs' new manager chuckled when asked about being so hands on.

"Somebody's got to do it, right?" Ross said. "I've got no ego here. I don't mind being the bucket boy. That's all right. I'm about W's. I don't care. If somebody needs balls fed to him, I'll do that, too. Somebody needs me to put a ball on the tee, I can handle that as well."

• Kris Bryant will meet with Ross at some point this spring to discuss the plan for using him this year (lineup spot and if the third baseman will play multiple positions).

"I'm just trying not to call him 'coach,'" Bryant said. "He was texting me this offseason, and I said like, 'Thanks, coach,' and he's like, 'Don't you ever call me coach again.' All right. So, he wants to be called Rossy."

"Definitely, when you see the All-Stars walk in the room, especially when they're like 6'6" with beautiful blue eyes, it makes you smile. And the great haircut that he has. I was telling him, 'You got a tan this year, too.' I don't know what he's been doing. But, yeah, man, that's a good vibe for me." -- Ross, on seeing Bryant on Saturday