Jed Hoyer told reporters it's only the fourth of fifth inning when it comes to the Chicago Cubs and their offseason plans - only fueling speculation the team could still, in the end, wind up reuniting with free agent Cody Bellinger before Opening Day.
During Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts' opening remarks and Ryan Dempster's Off the Mound talk show in the main ballroom, chants of 'Cody' erupted multiple times - and former Cubs outfielder Gary Matthews sounded off, showing unmitigated support for the idea of Bellinger coming back to Chicago during his segment with Dempster.
Even after Thursday's big trade with the Dodgers that brought in Michael Busch, a top 50 prospect in the game, and the highly anticipated introduction of Japanese left-hander Shota Imanaga, Cubs fans are craving some high-profile moves to bolster the lineup, none more than Bellinger, who returned to form in a big way last year with Chicago.
Yes, Cubs fans want Cody Bellinger - but they still seem optimistic about the team's direction as they congregate for Cubs Convention
The reception for Imanaga was raucous - which is hardly surprising after he introduced himself in English reciting a bit of 'Go, Cubs, Go,' in his introductory press conference earlier in the day. That headlined Friday's opening ceremonies, which started with introductions of Cubs of yesteryear and was followed by non-40 man prospects, higher-profile prospects, this year's team and concluding with Cubs Hall of Famers - including new inductees Kerry Wood and Aramis Ramirez.
All night long, the mood was one of optimism and excitement. For those in attendance - most of whom braved the elements with a major snowstorm hitting the area overnight into Friday morning - it marked an unofficial start to baseball season, which is an enticing thought given the weather in Chicago this time of year.
Watching Wood and Ramirez learn they were being inducted into the Cubs Hall of Fame via a video featuring their sons was undoubtedly the highlight of the first night of festivities (although I'd be remiss to not at least give mention of Harry Carayoke in the hotel bar) - one looming presence loomed over everything: that of Cody Bellinger.