Fun tops agenda for Cubs' full-squad workout

Bryant appreciates Maddon's style; Coghlan inspired by Zobrist

Fun tops agenda for Cubs' full-squad workout

MESA, Ariz. -- Kris Bryant remembers his Little League days, when coaches would let kids run to whatever position they wanted to play. He was reminded of that last year when he was moved to the outfield for a few games, and he expects Cubs manager Joe Maddon to continue to mix things up this season.

"When you think back to when you started playing baseball, it was always so much more fun in Little League," Bryant said Wednesday. "Now, it's like Little Leagues in the big leagues. I think that's one of the things that makes Joe such an unbelievable manager. You never know what you're going to do, what to expect in the clubhouse. I think more guys should be like that."

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Maddon didn't bring juice boxes, but he did emphasize having fun on the first full-squad workout day.

"I like the idea that they're out here just playing," Maddon said. "I spoke about that with Javy [Baez], that playing a bunch of different positions takes a little bit of emphasis off his offense, thus he'll play better offense. When our guys come to the ballpark, they have to be ready to do different things."

Baez is projected to see time in the outfield as well as the middle infield this spring as the Cubs develop him into a more versatile player. He won't be the only one needing multiple gloves. Ben Zobrist is projected as the starting second baseman, but he could sub in the outfield if needed. Chris Coghlan played first, second, third and the corner outfield spots last year.

"The thing for me is to just be ready," Coghlan said. "I don't need a role, I don't need to be boxed in."

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Zobrist was an inspiration, Coghlan said.

"I know there were guys before him, but in our era, my era, he's the main guy who developed that utility [role]," Coghlan said. "'Utility' was quote-unquote maybe more of a negative turn, like, 'Hey, you can't play every day.' [Zobrist] made it a cool thing. That started with Joe giving him opportunities [in Tampa Bay].

"I know when I was in Miami before I got here, playing against Ben, I was like, 'Man, that's how I want my career.' It's really about winning, and when you realize that and you can do different roles, it makes you accessible to the manager and the team."

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Players should know Maddon's plan is to finish each game with the best defensive team on the field, which could be a motivator.

One thing was clear Wednesday: the Cubs' players were eager to get started.

"I look at [Spring Training] as a continuation of last year and smelling the grass and all that -- it's going to be fun," Bryant said. "We're not putting any pressure on ourselves. It's just another year where we have some new guys in the clubhouse, and we're all looking forward to [the season] and having some fun with it."

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