The funeral services for Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks are scheduled for Friday at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago – as support across the nation continues to pour in in the wake of the shortstop’s death following a heart attack last weekend.
In other Cubs news, highly-touted prospect Javier Baez, who made his big league debut last season with the team, continues to struggle in winter ball – leading many to speculate he could begin the year with Triple-A Iowa. Manager Joe Maddon visited with Baez last weekend in Puerto Rico – but Spring Training will tell whether or not he has made any adjustments to address his strikeout-prone tendencies.
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James Shields is still on the open market, while the Miami Marlins inked Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki to a one-year deal as he continues his quest for 3,000 hits in the Major Leagues. The Cincinnati Reds locked up catcher Devin Mesoraco with a four-year pact after he broke out in a big way last season, hitting 25 long-balls and driving in 80 runs.
Rumored talks between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Philadelphia Phillies regarding closer Jonathan Papelbon never materialized to the point where the sides exchanged firm numbers, according to reports. A reunion tour with former Milwaukee closer Francisco Rodriguez, who is still without a team less than a month from Spring Training, is still not out of the question for the Brewers.
Here’s more from around the league:
“Manfred ready for majors from day one” – MLB.com
“Reds extend Devin Mesocaro on four-year deal” – Blog Red Machine
“Cubs new hitting coach ready to change a culture” – Cubbies Crib
“Vesting option makes Papelbon hard to trade” – FOX Sports