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Dawson embracing return to Cubs

MLB.com @ladsonbill24

Hall of Famer Andre Dawson wants to end his baseball career as a member of the Cubs, a possibility that exists now that he's back in the organization as an ambassador.

"The opportunity with the Cubs became available and I'm very excited, ecstatic about this chapter in my life," Dawson said in the Newsmakers podcast. "I can honestly say, hopefully when it's said and done, when I retire altogether, it will be as a Chicago Cub."

Hall of Famer Andre Dawson wants to end his baseball career as a member of the Cubs, a possibility that exists now that he's back in the organization as an ambassador.

"The opportunity with the Cubs became available and I'm very excited, ecstatic about this chapter in my life," Dawson said in the Newsmakers podcast. "I can honestly say, hopefully when it's said and done, when I retire altogether, it will be as a Chicago Cub."

Dawson's love for the Cubs, and the city, dates back to 1987, when he was a free agent and was so determined to play in Chicago that he offered the Cubs a blank contract proposal.

Video: Dawson on receiving MLBPAA Lifetime Achievement Award

Dawson battled through knee pain for much of his career and wanted to play on a natural-grass surface like the one at Wrigley Field after years of playing on the less-than-forgiving artificial turf at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

Dawson's change of venue paid off in his first year with the Cubs when he was named National League Most Valuable Player Award winner and led the league in home runs, RBIs and total bases.

"I was at the halfway point of my career," Dawson said. "I had 10 years in. I couldn't think of a better place. Wrigley Field -- natural playing surface, grass. They have Harry Caray, a national following. I just felt I would fit in with what they were trying to do.

"They were three years removed from postseason play. The fact they were in the National League, I made the determination as a free agent that Chicago would be my first choice."

The Cubs' national following raised Dawson's profile and likely helped him gain Hall of Fame induction in 2010. Dawson's primary ambassador responsibilities likely will be in public and sponsor relations. Given his Hall of Fame credentials, however, he undoubtedly will be a valuable resource for players.

Since joining the Cubs, Dawson has kept his eye on right fielder Jason Heyward, who has struggled at the plate, hitting just .243 since arriving in Chicago in 2016. Dawson noticed that Heyward's approach has changed since he was hit in the face by a pitch from then-Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese in 2013.

"After he was beaned, [Heyward] appeared to be a little bit different in his approach at the plate. I wouldn't say gun shy," Dawson said. "I think what he has to do is just stay fundamentally sound with his approach. He's got to know when and how to make the adjustment as a hitter and know what the pitchers are doing to him. He has the ability. He can't go in and try to consider covering all parts of the plate. He has to understand and realize what his strengths are and kind of make the pitcher adjust to him."

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

Chicago Cubs