Cubs prep for theme trip, show off silly suits

Leopard print, hot pink early favorites among NL Central leaders

Cubs prep for theme trip, show off silly suits

CHICAGO -- Javier Baez had three suits to chose from Sunday, including a leopard print and a camouflage pattern. Dexter Fowler showed up in hot pink shorts with a matching short sleeve jacket that he accented with a black t-shirt and black shoes. Adam Warren had a colorful Rubik's cube-patterned jacket and slacks.

It's all part of the Cubs' first theme trip this season, which manager Joe Maddon called "a minimalist zany suit trip." Everyone must wear some part of the suit every day during the quick three-game series in Pittsburgh or face a $100 fine.

"I'm going to wear the full shebang to the field every day," said Cubs reliever Justin Grimm, who had a patriotic navy jacket with white stars plus red pants and a red and white striped tie.

Baez had three outfits to pick from. He didn't want to wear the same thing as another teammate, although it looked as if there were a few duplicates.

"I'm sure I'm wearing something someone else is wearing," Kris Bryant said. "It will be a fun trip."

Jon Lester apparently had his suit custom-made for the occasion. Warren wasn't sure if he'd ever wear his again. Jake Arrieta had a choice of hot pink, cheetah and "something else -- one's a surprise."

"I'll see if I can not wear something that somebody else has," Arrieta said.

Maddon came up with the idea while searching the Internet during the Cubs' series in Arizona in early April. His suit has tulips on it, very appropriate for May 1.

• The Cubs finished the month of April at 17-5, the best in baseball.

"I'd love to keep doing that every month," Maddon said. "We've played pretty well the entire month. It's hard to knock our guys right now offensively, defensively or pitching. Baserunning has been really good. To be able to sustain all those components would be great. I think you're going to see guys hit better. A lot of our offense has been based on some really good at-bats, some timely hitting. To go out there and knock the cover off the ball, we haven't done that yet. I think there's an offensive push we're capable of."

The Cubs began Sunday tied for seventh in the National League with a team batting average of .255, while the pitching staff is second in the NL with a 2.39 ERA, trailing only the Nationals.

"A lot of us are just getting going," Bryant said. "It will be fun to see when things are clicking, when the pitching is going good and the hitting is going good. The pitchers carried us the whole month."

• Bryant returned to the lineup for the first time since spraining his right ankle on Thursday and started in left field. It's his seventh start in the outfield, while he's started at third base 15 times.

"He's definitely an everyday third baseman, I believe that," Maddon said of Bryant. "It's just a good day to get Tommy [La Stella] involved at third base."

La Stella entered play Sunday 10-for-25 (.400), and has reached in nine of his last 12 plate appearances.

"It's a matter of fitting all the pieces in," Maddon said.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.