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Let's go: Cubs officially open spring camp

Maddon wants club to 'embrace the target' this season
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MESA, Ariz. -- The theme for 2016, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, is "embrace the target," and he'll deliver that message on Saturday prior to the first workout by pitchers and catchers. Of course, anyone not in Cubs camp by now got a directive from Jon Lester.

On Thursday, Lester posted on Twitter: "If you're reporting today ... you're late! #LetsGo #NVRQT"

MESA, Ariz. -- The theme for 2016, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, is "embrace the target," and he'll deliver that message on Saturday prior to the first workout by pitchers and catchers. Of course, anyone not in Cubs camp by now got a directive from Jon Lester.

On Thursday, Lester posted on Twitter: "If you're reporting today ... you're late! #LetsGo #NVRQT"

Tweet from @JLester34: If you're reporting today...you're late! #LetsGo #NVRQT

Friday was the official day that pitchers and catchers had to be in Arizona, and the majority of the Cubs' spring roster has been in camp already. Maddon has been thinking about his pre-spring speech this offseason. Last year, it was all about "respect." But at the Winter Meetings, Maddon used the phrase "embrace the target," and he will carry that into the 2016 season.

"I'm a big believer in running towards the fire as opposed to away from it," Maddon said. "I really want our guys to get comfortable with the concept of everybody speaking so glowingly of us to embrace the target. ... The target has gotten bigger, so we have to embrace the target and understand what that means."

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The Cubs are coming off a 97-win season, a Wild Card berth and an appearance in the National League Championship Series. But they didn't win the last game of the season, and that's the goal. Maddon said they can't take anything for granted.

"If you look at our roster and the more recent additions and the veteranship among them, I want to believe and I do believe those are the kind of guys who would prevent any 'taken for granted-ness' from happening," Maddon said of newcomers John Lackey, Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist. "It's all about processing the day properly.

"You never take anything for granted, you never become complacent, because we have not accomplished our ultimate goal yet anyway," Maddon said. "We're coming off a really good season. There's a lot to be proud of, but there's so much more to accomplish. I totally have faith that our guys will send the appropriate message in the clubhouse."

Kris Bryant didn't pay any attention to the preseason hype.

"It's important for us to play baseball the way it's supposed to be played and not look at [predictions]," Bryant said Friday. "On paper, [the team] looks good. We have a really good team. I think we have the right guy leading us and the right pieces added to complement us."

Don't worry about the young players being overconfident.

"We're too young to be [overconfident]," Bryant said. "Last year was good for us to go through all the adversities and bumps in the road and getting swept by the Mets. All of that was good for us heading into this year. We all have good heads on our shoulders. I think the veterans will put us in check if any of us get out of line."

Bryant may have won the NL Rookie of the Year Award last season, but he has the same approach he did a year ago.

"I want to take that mindset that I haven't made the team, just because I don't want to become complacent," Bryant said. "I'm going to come out here and take the mindset that I haven't made the team and try to go out there and perform in Spring Training, and we'll see where we're at at the end of it."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

 

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