CHICAGO -- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein dismissed rumors that have linked the team to Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, saying "there are zero trade talks going on now.""I'm not addressing any specific rumor or any player on another team ... but the simple way to put it is
CHICAGO -- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein dismissed rumors that have linked the team to Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, saying "there are zero trade talks going on now."
"I'm not addressing any specific rumor or any player on another team ... but the simple way to put it is there's been a lot of trade rumors involving the Cubs and there are essentially zero trade talks right now involving the Cubs," Epstein said Friday. "There's a real disparity between the noise and reality. Sometimes that puts a player or two that we have in a real tough circumstance. It's my job to clarify there's nothing going on now."
Epstein pointed out that the early part of the schedule is the time when teams find out about themselves and he's not looking to add someone like Machado, who will be a free agent after this season.
"We have more than enough ability to win the division, to win the World Series," Epstein said. "We really need to focus on our roster and get the most out of our ability and find consistency.
"If you rush to those kind of judgments, you can often times make things worse," he said. "I think it's important to figure out exactly who you are and give guys a chance to play and find their level and see how all the pieces fit together before you make any adjustments."
• Before Wednesday's Interleague game between Chicago and Cleveland, Javier Baez took advantage of being reunited with his Team Puerto Rico teammate, Francisco Lindor, to take grounders with the Indians' shortstop. Baez said he got some feedback about doing so from those who feel opposing players shouldn't mingle.
"It's so difficult to explain this -- it can go 50-50, the right way or wrong way," Baez said Friday. "It's 2018; we're not in the '80s, '90s. We don't hate the other team like it used to be. The game has changed so much."
He said he learned a lot talking to Lindor.
"To me, it doesn't matter what they say out there," Baez said. "If I have a chance to do it again, I'll do it. It should be fun and it's a game -- it should be a fun. If we get a chance, we'll do it again and hopefully people understand."
• Anthony Rizzo, a cancer survivor, spent Thursday's off-day visiting patients and speaking to families at OSF Health Care in Peoria, Ill. The organization serves patients and families in central and northern Illinois and upper Michigan.
"It's the biggest hospital outside of [Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago] that deals with pediatric cancer," Rizzo said. "It was special. There was a good showing of all the kids."
Matt Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago. Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.