The Chicago Cubs won the World Series more than four months ago, but it still doesn’t seem real. That’s what happens when a franchise goes 108 years between world championships.
“I don’t think it has (sunk in) yet,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “As a competitor in years to come, I’ll really be able to look back at it and enjoy it more. But now we’re so focused on getting ready for 2017 and the task ahead.”
Yes, for the first time since 1909, the Cubs enter the season as defending World Series champions. Rizzo, 27, is hoping for another monster year. He hit .292 with 32 homers, 109 RBIs and 94 runs last season. He also apparently gave motivational speeches during the World Series.
“Yeah, it was fun,” Rizzo said, laughing. “We won. That’s the biggest thing. Whatever happened worked.”
The Cubs have been treated like rock stars in recent months, with Bill Murray and Eddie Vedder, among other celebrities, congratulating them on their championship.
“Just the treatment you get after you win is amazing,” Rizzo said. “It’s something you want to continue to keep getting.”
The Cubs return several key pieces from their championship team but would certainly love to get a better year from Jason Heyward, who hit .230 with seven homers, 49 RBIs and a .306 OBP last season. The 27-year-old was even worse in the postseason, hitting .104 with one double, one RBI and 13 strikeouts in 48 at-bats.
Heyward, though, is working hard to improve.
“We won the World Series and everyone is doing their thing, and you got J-Hey just ready, immediately motivated to get back to what he knows he can do,” Rizzo said. “Seeing him work this offseason has been pretty amazing, what he’s done. I think that his swing looks a lot better now and the ball is coming off a lot harder. Now it’s just a matter of not trying to do too much. That’s what spring training is for – to work on new things and, for me, get all the bad things out of the way and learn how to do it and cope with it again.”
The Cubs open the regular season April 2 on the road in St. Louis. Their home-opener is April 10 against the Dodgers.