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Kipnis eager to work with Hoerner in Cubs camp

@MLBastian
February 17, 2020

MESA, Ariz. -- Jason Kipnis remembers what it was like being a highly-touted prospect asked to man second base in the big leagues. As a veteran now competing for a job with the Cubs, Kipnis does not want top prospect Nico Hoerner to view him as an obstacle. "I'll get

MESA, Ariz. -- Jason Kipnis remembers what it was like being a highly-touted prospect asked to man second base in the big leagues. As a veteran now competing for a job with the Cubs, Kipnis does not want top prospect Nico Hoerner to view him as an obstacle.

"I'll get to know him," Kipnis said. "I know he came up and had pretty good success. So, I think he's going to be a competition, but at the same time, I'm not going to try to put him down. I'd like to work with him and kind of teach him what I know, too, and hopefully, both of us become better from it."

Hearing that meant a lot to the 22-year-old Hoerner.

"That's amazing. I really appreciate that," Hoerner said. "At the end of the day, we're all in this together and it's toward the same goal. So, hopefully, we can help each other in that way. And when you do have other people that are competing for the same thing, I think that elevates everybody."

During Monday's first full-squad workout, Kipnis went through infield drills at second base with David Bote and Daniel Descalso. Hoerner, who filled in admirably as the Cubs' shortstop in September, got work in at short with Javier Báez. Expect Hoerner to spend time at both spots throughout the spring as he fights for an Opening Day job.

Hoerner's clearest path to the 26-man roster is as the second baseman, but the Cubs are weighing whether sending him to Triple-A Iowa for more development is the proper approach. Chicago is also exploring how to handle the distribution of playing time at second. There could be mixing and matching with a righty (Bote or Hoerner) and lefty (Kipnis or Descalso).

Hoerner is happy to have three players with plenty of big league experience that he can lean on this spring. The prospect credited both Bote and Descalso for already being a big help since last season. Over the offseason, Hoerner and Descalso also worked out together some at Stanford.

"I would say of all the people in this locker room," Hoerner said, "Bote and Descalso last year, when I got called up, were two of the absolute best for me."

Marquee reaches deal with Hulu
The Marquee Sports Network announced on Monday that the streaming platform Hulu will carry the network via Hulu Plus. Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said Monday that Marquee is still in negotiations with other streaming services, including YouTube TV.

Marquee is also trying to strike a deal with Comcast before Opening Day.

"Everyone has their own timetable," Kenney said. "I would think, personally, that Opening Day of the regular season will be pretty important to Comcast. But again, their leadership team will decide how eagerly they want to pursue this."

Marquee, which is set to launch with the Cubs' first Spring Training game on Feb. 22, has coverage with 25 carriers at the moment, accounting for roughly 40 percent of the households in the team's home territory (as outlined by MLB). That includes AT&T, Mediacom and Charter Communications. For fans outside the home territory, Marquee games will be available through MLB.TV.

Worth noting
• Both Kenney and Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said it was too early to speculate how the Marquee Sports Network might impact the baseball budget and payroll in future seasons. First and foremost, Kenney said the team needs to get the network fully distributed.

"You need a year probably," Kenney said. "In a year, we'll know more about how the network’s doing. But I think it's a leap to say today, 'This is what it'll mean for payroll a year from now.'"

• During a batting-practice session on Monday, slugger Kris Bryant moved into the left-handed batter's box and mimicked the stance of first baseman Anthony Rizzo. He then watched the final pitch of Tyler Chatwood's throwing session, as the crowd on hand at the complex erupted in laughter.

• Chatwood and righty Adbert Alzolay were among the pitchers to throw to hitters in Monday's first full-squad workout. Chatwood is the front-runner for the fifth rotation spot, but Alzolay, Alec Mills, Colin Rea and Jharel Cotton are also under consideration.

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.