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Cubs’ defense remains a priority after significant improvement in 2020

Manager David Ross’ mandate to improve the team’s defense paid big dividends last season.

John Antonoff/ Chicago Sun-Times

MESA, Ariz. — Spring training is in full swing, and with games beginning next week, the Cubs took the opportunity to work on their defense for the first time in a group workout Wednesday.

One of the things manager David Ross wanted to improve when he was hired after the 2019 season was the Cubs’ defense, and he did. The Cubs won the team Gold Glove Award last season, and drills that often are considered an afterthought in the spring helped them take their defense to another level.

‘‘It is exciting,’’ Ross said. ‘‘It was nice, clean, crisp. I’m kind of like a sucker for a good infield [drill] at the big-league level. These guys, just watching them throw the ball and move around out there, the energy they brought, I don’t know, [it] put me in a really good mood. I found myself clapping a lot.

‘‘We’re here. We’re getting going. It’s an exciting time. I couldn’t have been happier about watching that, being able to stand there, watch these guys get out there and throw the baseball around with some intent.’’

Davis invited to big-league camp

Top outfield prospect Brennen Davis has been invited to major-league camp as a non-roster player, the Cubs said. Davis, 21, trained at the team’s alternate site in South Bend, Indiana, with no minor-league season in 2020.

The Cubs selected Davis in the second round of the 2018 draft. He ranks 61st on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospect list.

Snelten out for spring with elbow injury

Left-hander D.J. Snelten is going to be out for six weeks with an elbow injury. He’ll begin a strengthening program.

Snelten, 28, was a non-roster invitee this spring after signing a minor-league deal in November.