Cubs motivated by coach Martinez's reward system

Cubs motivated by coach Martinez's reward system

MESA, Ariz. -- Jorge Soler had three stars on his cap. Justin Grimm received two in one day. Even advance scout Kyle Phillips was recognized.

Each day, Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez acknowledges a player and/or coach of the day by giving him a small shiny star to stick to his baseball cap. It's the same little metallic-colored stars your grade-school teacher probably used for a good book report.

This is not a carry-over from Martinez's days with manager Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay, but something new to help promote a winning atmosphere with the Cubs.

"In any sport, it's about competing, whether you're competing against each other or competing against someone else," Martinez said Wednesday. "I came up with this idea of having a 'player of the day' or 'coach of the day' so the guys are always competing for something. It's fun.

"Soler was pumped up because he got a couple stars. We did an outfield drill and one group happened to hit the bucket more than the other, so they won stars. The infielders did the same thing."

Phillips, who normally isn't in uniform, helped out in the outfield shagging fly balls for nearly two hours one day and was recognized.

"I said, 'That's a team player right there,'" Martinez said, laughing.

Players are nominating others for their efforts, too, Martinez said. On Tuesday, rain halted the Cubs' workout and the players headed en mass to the weight room.

"We had 80 guys just run into the workout room, and the training staff was outstanding, so I found these little medals and gave [the staff] medals," Martinez said. "[The medal] had a star on it -- how funny is that?"

Grimm was awarded a star for winning one of the morning dance contests a week ago. What was the other star for?

"I think I did something funny and [Martinez] liked it," Grimm said. "I want to have the hat filled by the end of Spring Training."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.