Reunited and it feels so ‘awesome’: Lee Smith rejoins Cubs after 3 decades away from ‘home’

The Hall of Fame closer, who most recently had been a minor-league pitching instructor for the Giants, is a new “ambassador” for the organization.

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Lee Smith is inducted into the Hall of Fame last summer.

Lee Smith is inducted into the Hall of Fame last summer.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Closer Lee Smith, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Cub last season, has rejoined the organization as an “ambassador.”

“Whatever the hell that means,” he said with a laugh Sunday as the Cubs Convention concluded with morning panels that included a star-studded group of 1980s fan favorites.

“When Mr. [Tom] Ricketts calls me to do something, I’m going,” he said. “It’s awesome. It’s really good to be back home. I’m loving it, man.”

Smith, who joined Fergie Jenkins and former teammates Ryne Sandberg, Gary Matthews, Andre Dawson and Bob Dernier on the panel, left the Giants’ organization, where he was a minor-league pitching instructor.

A seven-time All-Star who earned 180 of his 478 career saves during eight seasons with the Cubs, Smith also weighed in on the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal and a new rule that affects the use of relievers.

“Man, I couldn’t figure all that crap out,” he said when asked about the sign-stealing. “I was just trying to figure my way to the bullpen. You’ve still got to throw it over the plate. You’ve still got to hit the ball. Still, it’s illegal, man.”

Smith added, “They’ve probably been doing it for years,” but he downplayed suggestions the Astros wouldn’t have been successful without cheating.

“They’ve still got to pitch and play,’’ he said. ‘‘They’ve got to go on the road and things like that. When I was in Chicago, I remember the guys saying [about the Cubs], ‘Oh, man, they got something going on out in the center-field clock.’ I’m like, ‘You do know we lost 96 damn games that year.’ ’’

He likes the new rule that requires a reliever to face at least three batters or finish an inning.

“Because you can see and learn how to pitch by facing hitters,” he said. “You learn to pitch by seeing hitters.”

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