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TMCNet:  10 things learned at 25th Cubs Convention: Clubhouse changes, logjam in lineup among revelations

[January 18, 2010]

10 things learned at 25th Cubs Convention: Clubhouse changes, logjam in lineup among revelations

Jan 18, 2010 (Chicago Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The 25th Cubs Convention ended Sunday afternoon at the Hilton Chicago after a wild weekend of ranting, raving and Ricketts watching. Here are 10 things we discovered at the kickoff event of the 2010 season: 1 Clubhouse changes in store: The Wrigley Field clubhouses are tiny compared with most teams' because the layout of Wrigley Field makes it difficult to renovate. Laura Ricketts said the "state of the clubhouse was shocking to me." Some changes will be made immediately. Todd Ricketts announced the team would renovate the clubhouse kitchen and bring in a nutritionist. The weight room will be a lounge, and the umpires room will be a weight room.

2 Ghosts of DeRosa, Bradley remain: General manager Jim Hendry has apologized so many times for trading Mark DeRosa and signing Milton Bradley, he's threatening the world record for mea culpas. "Obviously it was a shoot-for-the-moon (decision)," he said of Bradley. "Obviously it didn't work out. It was totally my responsibility. It was a mistake in hindsight." As for why he didn't re-sign DeRosa as a free agent this offseason, Hendry said DeRosa's days as a second baseman may be over, and the Cubs already have a left fielder.

3 Cubs all ears: The addition of a "Chief Hospitality Officer" by the Ricketts family was an indication the organization will listen more intently to fan complaints and advice. "We take our cues from you all," President Crane Kenney said.

4 Squirrels bite: Why couldn't fans use their iPhones last summer at Wrigley? "Believe it or not, the answer is squirrels," said Carl Rice, the Cubs' technology guru. Rice said squirrels ate through the wires providing AT&T wireless access. He said the issue has been resolved.

5 Ernie Banks to be landmarked: Mr. Cub will be made a "living landmark" by Landmarks Illinois at a March 6 ceremony at the Palmer House Hilton, along with Harold Ramis and Lee Flaherty.

6 Zambrano has a future in TV: Pitcher Carlos Zambrano won't need the money after he retires, but he has the personality to become a color analyst on Cubs broadcasts, assuming Bob Brenly leaves the booth. "Big Z" said he'll finish his career in Chicago. Reports out of New York last month said the Yankees asked about Zambrano, who has a no-trade clause. "I'm not from New York," he said. "I'm from Chicago." Actually, he's from Puerto Cabello, Venezuela.

7 Piniella takes the fifth: Manager Lou Piniella said new outfielder Marlon Byrd would "hopefully" bat fifth, but he also said Alfonso Soriano "hopefully" would bat fifth. Byrd said he just wants to be in the lineup. "I've hit one all the way through nine," he said. "I don't think I'll ever hit nine unless I'm struggling and Big Z's pitching." 8 Marmol the closer: Piniella said Carlos Marmol will be his man no matter what happens this spring. "There won't be any closer controversy, no closer decisions," he said.

9 Piniella has management's backing: Chances are good Piniella will return to the Cubs' dugout in 2011 if he wants. Kenney said the Cubs are satisfied with the job he has done.

10 Geo Lite looks positively svelte: Piniella told fans catcher Geovany Soto was so small after losing 40 pounds that he looked like a "jockey." He meant it as a compliment.

psullivan@tribune.com To see more of the Chicago Tribune, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.chicagotribune.com. Copyright (c) 2010, Chicago Tribune Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email tmsreprints@permissionsgroup.com, call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.

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