Waiting for promised renovations sore subject with Cubs’ players
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter May 30, 2014 11:52PM
Updated: July 1, 2014 7:00AM
MILWAUKEE — Just wake the Cubs when the new clubhouse and batting cages are done. They’re tired of all the politics, snafus, false starts and broken promises over Wrigley Field renovations.
Maybe by then their five-year baseball nightmare will be over, too.
Until then, no more talk about new bullpens and clubhouses until a shovel is in the ground, please.
“They told us again that we were going to get approved, and it didn’t get approved, so I know a lot of guys are not happy about that,” said first baseman Anthony Rizzo, one of two Cubs signed beyond 2016. “It’s kind of a shame because we get excited about it. Give them credit that they’re working their tails off. But again it got shut down. It was kind of a bummer, because we all thought it was going to happen.
“Now it’s just kind of wait and see like everybody else.”
Rizzo, who, like shortstop Starlin Castro, is signed through 2019, said he follows the renovation saga. But the way he sounded Friday, before the Cubs’ 11-5 loss to the first-place Milwaukee Brewers, he and teammates might be done with that.
“What’s going to be nice about the new renovations is we’re going to have all the top-notch stuff,” he said. “The new clubhouse is going to be the best in the game. …
“It’s just [we get] kind of sick of hearing it’s going to be done, and just want to see it get done.”
The latest broken promise involved ownership’s video-accompanied media blitz last week that vowed to move forward with a broader, more expansive — and expensive — plan that would include a new clubhouse and batting cages by the start of 2016.
That included business president Crane Kenney’s assertion that the city was on board with the new plans, and that it would be ready to present to the landmark commission next week — until the mayor put the brakes on the timeline because of newly added alterations to the bricks and ivy.
Kenney has been on a personal public-relations campaign across Chicago airwaves late in the week to spread the renovation gospel in the wake of the latest stutter-step.
“I’ve only been here for a few years, and guys before me have heard it before, [that] changes were going to happen,” Rizzo said, “and I don’t know what’s going on.”
Pitcher Carlos Villanueva, who relieved hard-hit starter Travis Wood in the third, said one of the reasons he signed before last season was the promise that the Cubs would have a new clubhouse for the start of 2014.
“At least I got to see the spring training one, which was really nice,” he said.
Jeff Samardzija said he has been hearing the promises for three years. Now he is expected to be traded this summer without seeing much more out of the project than some cool slide shows.
Said Villanueva: “We can only dream.”
“Obviously it’s not my job to do it,” Rizzo said. “We all want it. But when guys are promised things that are going to happen and they don’t happen, they’re not happy about it. When it gets done it’s going to be great. Now it’s just kind of, ‘OK, when it gets done it gets done.’
“We’re not going to have our hopes up or anything.”
NOTES: When Emilio Bonifacio bounced a single off second baseman Rickie Weeks’ glove for a run-scoring hit in the third, it snapped a 22-inning scoreless streak for the Cubs that dated to Monday in San Francisco.
◆ De facto closer Hector Rondon went on the paternity list (maximum three days). He is the Cubs’ second player in a five days to leave the team for the birth of a child. Taking his roster spot was reliever Pedro Strop, who was activated from the DL (groin).