MESA, Ariz. _ They're all here today on the first day the Cubs' full squad works out. The TV cameras have weathered a couple false alarms about the big arrival of the Ricketts family, and a PR operative (non-Cubs; their media-relations staff is great) already has told us they won't be doing a formal press conference, that they'd talk to us unwashed medias outside. Hey, lighten up and let's have a little nicer entree. This isn't the Trib Company after all. Left to his own devices, I think Tom Ricketts will be just fine. Too much gate-keeping can be a bad thing.
UPDATE: Tom indeed did address the media today after he addressed the team, and despite the best efforts of the non-Cubs PR handler to cut things short, he gave us about six minutes of time and did well.
"I think there were two messages," he said. "One, it's a family ownership now, and we want everyone to feel like they're part of a family, and the second message is we're just very, very excited to get the season started. We think we had a terrific off-season. We have great players and great coaches, and we should have a great year."
In response to a question about the Cubs finally having a real person as an owner instead of a corporation, Tom flashed a sense of humor by saying that "I pride myself on being an actual person." Well played.
Tom added the family will be accessible to the fans, players and the coaches.
The first attempt to cut off the informal little news conference, held under bright sunshine, came at the 4-minute, 25-second mark (when things were going nicely enough), but we forged on. Tom said he didn't want to address opposition to the so-called Cubs tax for spring training but that he would be looking at various property sites down here.
As far as the baseball goes, Aramis Ramirez says his left shoulder is good after doing therapy "Monday-Friday" all winter. D-Lee says he took some therapy for his neck over the winter after some flareups last year. Neither said they were pre-occupied by their contract situations. Aramis has an opt-out, and D-Lee will be a free agent.
Oh yes, Starlin Castro is here, too. We'll grab him after the workouts.
The "chemistry" question just won't go away. You-know-who was subtracted, and Kevin Millar and Marlon Byrd were added. D-Lee probably summed things up best.
"I don't think that was our problem last year," Lee said of bad chemistry. "I just think we didn't play good baseball, and the injuries mounted up on us."
On Millar, D-Lee said: "He's great to be around. I had a chance to play with him in Florida. He's probably the funniest guy I know. I woke up this morning looking forward to seeing him."
The rain has moved out. It's cool but sunny. Maybe I can give that digital camera a go of it today and then drop it off at PhotoMat.