It’s a new Cubs team that hits Chicago Monday for the long-awaited home opener.
OK, maybe the team’s not so new – or even so different from last year’s second-place disappointment, if early returns mean anything.
Well, it’s a spruced-up Wrigley Field that greets the team, complete with upgraded weight room and clubhouse kitchen, and a new players’ lounge – as well as several improvements to restrooms and seating areas.
A team nutritionist, who already has banned soda and other junk food from the clubhouse, also is on board this season, along with a team psychiatrist (granted, probably a year late).
So what competitive edge might the Cubs expect from all the amenities and specialty personnel?
“[The ballpark upgrades] make it a much more pleasant experience for our fans [and players], but you win on the field,” said manager Lou Piniella, who hasn’t seen much of that in six road games so far.
“The dietician doesn’t get any base hits,” he said. “The psychiatrist – I haven’t seen him hit a two-run homer yet. But he can help. …
“You’ve got to play on the field. All those other things might prepare you a little better to play on the field. But, still, when the umpire says play ball, you’ve still got to play.”