Cubs’ minor league spring training going full steam ahead despite lockdown

A Cubs moving truck was spotted on Waveland Ave. outside Wrigley Field this week.

Which begs the question: what about spring training?

The truck obviously has nothing to do with the big league camp. The MLB lockout is in its third month and spring training is facing a delay due to contentious labor negotiations.

Anyone can guess when the big league camps will open. As for the most interesting part of the Cubs’ spring training?

“It’s business as usual,” Cubs vice president of player personnel Matt Dorey said of minor league spring training on the latest Cubs Talk podcast. “We are locked and loaded.

“We spend every day talking about logistics and making sure we have reporting dates and physical dates. Everything is on point. So from my perspective, we’re focused on getting all of our players in Arizona.”

The Cubs will open their minor league spring training in a few weeks. Their reporting date for minicamp — a pre-spring training program for minor leaguers — is Feb. 21, Dorey said.

The club will then start holding physicals on March 2, with camp due to start on March 6 and 7, Dorey said. The first minor league spring game is scheduled for March 17.

Some prospects are already at the Cubs’ Arizona compound, including Brennen Davis, Ed Howard, Cristian Hernandez, Kevin Alcantara, Reggie Preciado, Yeison Santana and Ismael Mena — the last four acquired in trades in the past calendar year and counting.

“For the first time in a few years, we have somewhat normal spring training and minor league minicamp,” Dorey said.

As it is, of course.

COVID-19 ended spring training in 2020. Last year, there was uncertainty whether spring training would even start on time as the pandemic raged across the country.

Big league camps opened in February and included Triple-A players, but spring training for Double-A and Single-A players was delayed until the start of the MLB regular season.

Even a return to normal this year will be different as long as the lockdown continues. MLB’s Opening Day, scheduled for March 31, is further compromised each day without a new labor agreement.

On the other hand, the Cubs have the opportunity to prepare for the minor league season for the first time in three years.

And the journey to opening day of the minor leagues the first week of April hits the road.

“We only focus on what we can control, and that provides the best environment for our players and our staff to prepare them for,” Dorey said. “For two years we haven’t had any normality in a build-up.

“We are all really excited to have this opportunity again with our players.”

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