Cubs eager to check out changes at Wrigley

Published: 4/11/2010 9:54 PM

CINCINNATI – Many Cubs players gathered around a computer screen Sunday morning to watch a report about some of the new additions at Wrigley Field.

When they return home Monday for the Wrigley opener, they’ll return to a new weight room and a new players lounge. The home clubhouse at Wrigley Field is the smallest home locker room in baseball, so the players seem to appreciate the changes made by the new owners, the Ricketts family.

“I think starting over the next few years it will get even better and better,” said pitcher Ryan Dempster, who starts Monday. “They seem pretty determined to keep Wrigley Field exactly the same, but just make the guts of it a lot nicer and do nice things for the season-ticket holders and the fans that are there and for us in the locker room and the weight room. Now, the important part for us as players is to go out there and do our job.”

The new weight room is in the old umpires room, down the tunnel from the dugout to the clubhouse. The umpires have been moved to the runway off the first-base dugout.

“I’m looking forward to the weight room,” first baseman Derrek Lee said. “That should be better. I’m excited to see it. Oh, we’ve got a players lounge. That’ll be fun to see.”

Even with the new stuff, Dempster says he won’t change much.

“I said I’ll probably still be playing cards next to the washing machine and dryer in the back,” he said. “It’s awesome. It’s great. It’s good for the guys. You guys know it’s a pretty small space over there, but it definitely adds a little bit.”

Good to a point: In addition to the physical changes at Wrigley Field, the Cubs also have a team nutritionist and a team psychological consultant.

Manager Lou Piniella talked about the changes at the park and the addition of the nutritionist and psychologist.

“I think it makes it a little more comfortable for the players,” Piniella said. “They’ve done some really nice things for the fans at the ballpark, too, to make it a much more pleasant experience for our fans. But you win on the field. The dietitian doesn’t get any basehits. It might help the players get basehits.

“The psychiatrist, I haven’t seen him hit a 2-run homer yet. But he can help. He can help players hit home runs. You know what I’m saying? You’ve got to play on the field. All those other things might prepare you to play a little better on the field, but still, when the umpire says, ‘Play ball,’ you’ve got to play.”

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