Bosio already hard at work with early arrivals

Cubs pitching coach getting to know newcomers, excited about entire staff

February 17th, 2016

MESA, Ariz. -- If Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio isn't talking to his pitchers before or after their bullpen sessions in Spring Training, he's often on the golf course with them. It's a perfect ice breaker.

"You find out a lot about guys on a golf course," Bosio said Wednesday. "It's my way of us getting away from here and still talking shop. I've got a lot of guys who love to golf, I've got a lot of guys who don't like to golf, but they'll just get out, and that's how we build camaraderie."

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Cubs pitchers and catchers officially report Friday, but Bosio has been working with early arrivals at the team's complex for the past two weeks. They're hoping to continue to make progress after last year's 97-win season.

"It's a great environment and we'll build off last year with some great additions and a taste for what postseason baseball was," Bosio said. "I think the guys all liked that taste in their mouth. We're motivated and focused, and what better than to watch [assistant hitting coach Eric] Hinske walk over there with the tunes for batting practice."

Even though position players don't have to report until Tuesday, Hinske had four hitting groups on Field 1 on Wednesday, including Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Chris Coghlan, Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez, Albert Almora and John Andreoli.

Bosio won't have to do much tinkering to the rotation, which will feature National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta plus Jon Lester, newcomer John Lackey, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks. The only real issue to resolve is the makeup of the bullpen. Where do newly acquired Adam Warren and Rex Brothers fit? What about Neil Ramirez?

"We're starting to get more competition, more depth, and the organization has done a great job of acquiring that," Bosio said. "Health is big. When we're healthy, we'll see what these guys can do. The bullpen had a good year last year. We had some guys who had some really nice years, some career years, and they're coming into camp already and they look good. Health will be the No. 1 priority moving forward from Day 1 to the end of spring."

Fans shouldn't be surprised to see Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill or Clayton Richard get starts in Spring Training. It's part of the plan to give everyone innings and get stretched out, and also monitor the starting five's workload. Bosio said there are enough split squad and "B" games to keep everyone busy.

What also helps Bosio is that he knows what to expect from manager Joe Maddon after one year together.

"The one thing I saw last year that I learned from watching Joe manage is that Joe managed literally every at-bat to win," Bosio said. "In a lot of situations, [the starters] all could've had 200 innings. But I don't think we would've been where we were if Joe had managed differently."