MESA, Ariz. – The photos circulating Wednesday from Wrigley Field created buzz in Arizona, where Cubs players are in the final stages of breaking camp to head to Sunday’s opener.
“It looks like Baghdad,” said right-hander Jason Hammel. “But you know there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow there.
“I’m excited, man.”
The new system at Wrigley provides walkup music for all the players in addition to video replay (beyond small TVs in seating areas and the concourse) for the first time in the ballpark’s history.
But the ballpark remains under construction as the season opens, with no bleachers (scheduled to be fully opened sometime near midseason) and next-phase preparation surrounding the park to continue throughout the season.
“It is what it is right now. We’re going to deal with it,” Hammel said. “But it’s exciting. It’s something that’s a long time coming and it’s fun to be a part of, even if it is going to be a little sketchy to get around.
“It’s a lot of time and effort going into a place that’s pretty sacred ground. … It’s going to be fun to be able to go back in time later in my life to say I was part of that.”
Part of the widespread tolerance among players for the hassles of construction might have something to do with the different tone in camp after the team followed three years of tanking seasons by committing more than $250 million to upgraded personnel in an attempt to compete.
“We don’t have bleachers, but it doesn’t matter,” shortstop Starlin Castro said a few days ago. “We feel very good [about] starting the new season, with new people here, and I think it’s going to be really exciting.”