World Series talk in the Cubs’ clubhouse? You’d better believe it … sort of

Also: Marcus Stroman weighs in on likely All-Star nod.

SHARE World Series talk in the Cubs’ clubhouse? You’d better believe it … sort of
Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson was a national champion at Vanderbilt.

Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson was a national champion at Vanderbilt.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

PITTSBURGH — As the Cubs prepared for their series opener Monday against the Pirates at PNC Park, the TVs in the visitors’ clubhouse were tuned to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

Specifically, they were showing Stanford — second baseman Nico Hoerner’s alma mater — being eliminated by Tennessee.

Ah, well, at least Stanford made it to the CWS for the third year in a row. The Cardinal never made it in Hoerner’s three seasons at the school.

Hoerner didn’t appear to take his alma mater’s loss too hard, but don’t think these major-league hotshots from college-power programs aren’t walloped by sentimentality at this time of year.

Infielder Nick Madrigal stole glance after glance at the nearest screen before a reporter finally asked him whether he was missing his days at Oregon State, where he won the CWS in 2018.

‘‘The memories definitely come flooding back,’’ said Madrigal, who got to catch up with Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman and a few other college teammates who watched them play last weekend at Wrigley Field. ‘‘I enjoyed my time in college so much. I can’t imagine skipping college and [turning pro] out of high school. College was one of the greatest times of my life.’’

A text group of former Beavers has Madrigal’s phone dinging extra these days, but it’s nothing like what’s going on with manager David Ross and his 1998 teammates at Florida, where Ross was a standout catcher. Ross — the rare player to get to the CWS with two schools, Auburn in 1997 and Florida in 1998 — estimates the Gators’ exciting run to Omaha led to 1,000 texts from the old gang in a period of about four days.

‘‘That’s my favorite thing about friendship and experiences and being in cool moments, whether it’s in the big leagues in the playoffs or in college or in high school,’’ Ross said. ‘‘Those stories that other guys have that you forget about are so valuable to me.’’

Shortstop Dansby Swanson won a national title with Vanderbilt in 2014, and the Commodores followed that with a runner-up finish a year later. Swanson still keeps close tabs on Vandy, which fell just short of the CWS this season.

‘‘Omaha is such a special place,’’ he said. ‘‘Man, what memories. Of course, I miss it. It’s something I wouldn’t trade for the world.’’

A Stro-Stro reaction

How good has right-hander Marcus Stroman been? Perhaps better than any starting pitcher in the National League.

With his eight victories and minuscule ERA (2.45) and WHIP (1.04), he seems an excellent bet for the All-Star Game in Seattle. Who knows? Maybe he even will get the ball to start the game.

Goodness, what a thrill!

‘‘Nope,’’ Stroman said, ‘‘not at all.’’

But he didn’t even get to pitch in the game in 2019, the one time he was an All-Star.

‘‘Yeah, but I don’t ever concern myself with accolades,’’ he said. ‘‘Pitching in the All-Star Game is not something that fuels me in the slightest. Didn’t watch that game as a kid, didn’t dream of it.’’

OK, then, never mind for now.

This and that

Henry Davis, one of the top prospects in the Pirates’ organization — he was the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft in 2021 — made his big-league debut in right field and doubled down the third-base line against Cubs left-hander Drew Smyly in his first at-bat.

Nice moment, seeing Buccos fans on their feet with excitement and hope for the future.

George Frazier, a reliever on the 1984 division-winning Cubs who pitched for five big-league teams and was a longtime broadcaster with the Rockies, died at 68.

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