Ben Zobrist arrives in Cubs camp, ready to be heard
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MESA, Ariz. — Not only has Ben Zobrist finally been located, but upon his delayed arrival to spring training Friday, he vowed to be harder to miss during the final year of his contract with the Cubs.
‘‘I actually feel more freedom; I feel lighter because I’m just taking it one day at a time,’’ said Zobrist, the elder statesman of the Cubs’ clubhouse at nearly 38, who expects to take more ‘‘ownership of the entire group’’ during a crossroads season for everyone from the manager to the 25th man on the roster.
Believe it or not, the most even-tempered man in the clubhouse this side of Kyle Hendricks said he plans to be more vocal and to step in when he thinks something needs to be said to a teammate.
‘‘The experience does give you something,’’ said Zobrist, whose arrival was delayed by personal business. ‘‘You have been through a few things that maybe some of the young guys haven’t.’’
Zobrist was part of a group of veterans asked to meet with front-office executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer after the abrupt and bitter end to the Cubs’ season in 2018.
‘‘We had some very candid conversations with the leadership,’’ he said. ‘‘When you feel like you get to have a voice and you get a chance to potentially have a say in what could happen as the new year comes up, you jump in. . . . I can’t wait to see how it plays itself out.’’
Zobrist, who hit .300 for the first time in his career (.817 OPS) with a well-managed workload last season, said he doesn’t know whether his playing time will be reduced again this season and said he’s fine either way.
‘‘You see how things went last year, and we all feel a collective responsibility,’’ he said. ‘‘And for me, not knowing what my future is next year, I definitely want to take my full responsibility and give whatever I can to this group, so that we can get back to where we want to be.’’