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Day 5 Notes: Renteria: Eliminate anxiety

2/18/2014

MESA, Ariz. -- New Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria will address his team for the first time Wednesday as full squad workouts are set to begin. He says his speech won’t be that different than the one he gave to pitchers and catchers last week: eliminate the distractions and do the work at hand.

“Many of the things that I’ll say, I’ll say over and over the course of the spring, over the course of the season,” Renteria said Tuesday. “It will be redundant but what we’re trying to do is change the way we think and do things.”

The bottom line is that without championship-ready talent, the Cubs have to rely on doing things the right way. If they can take care of the little things, when the talent catches up to the attitude, they might just have a winner.

“You shouldn’t fear having high expectations,” Renteria continued. “A lot of times guys worry about creating this ceiling because how are they going to feel if they don’t attain it.”

Creating false expectations probably isn’t the Cubs problem -- no player is promising anything for himself or the team right now. Still, Renteria wants nothing to stand in the Cubs way of playing the game the right way, not their record or what the date on the calendar is.

“Eliminate all those things that are of no consequence and concentrate (on) all the action right in front of them,” he said.

Analysis: Renteria has the right thought process in that doing things the right way from start to finish should pay off down the road. He’s not giving in to any predictions for the season but he’s not fooling himself either. Win or lose, things must be done the right way. That’s how a loser -- along with talent -- turns into a winner.

Olt ready: Third baseman Mike Olt says he’s ready for the challenges of spring training after an injury-riddled year where his eyesight was an issue.

“Taking a mental break was huge,” Olt said. “I’m excited to get out there and get going.”

Renteria recently said third base could be a platoon or won “by one person.” Olt is aware of this but is trying to block it out.

“I can’t focus about that,” he said. “If I put extra pressure on myself, I won’t play to my ability. I know there’s an opportunity but I can’t focus on that.”

Analysis: Spring production will tell his story. Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy are the incumbent platoon at third base but with neither locked in for multiple years or high-ceiling prospects, Olt can win the job. It might be his to win -- but right now it’s Valbuena and Murphy’s to lose.

Alcantara ready for anything: Prospect Arismendy Alcantara will begin the season as the Cubs Triple-A second baseman. He’s a shortstop by trade but with top pick Javier Baez also playing that position, Alcantara had no problem moving.

“I’m a shortstop, but I start to play second base,” Alcantara said Tuesday. “I feel comfortable at both.”

He admits he has work to do on his game but is hopeful he gets that call to the majors.

“That’s going to be exciting,” he said. “Just have to get ready for the Cubs. If they call me, I’ll be ready to go.”

Analysis: Alcantara has come a long way in a short amount of time. It’s conceivable he and Baez could both come up to the majors this season but Alcantara doesn’t possess the raw talent that Baez has. A full season at Triple-A Iowa should have him ready for the big leagues if he stays on the same path of improvement.

  • Owner Tom Ricketts will address his team Wednesday and then hold his annual state-of-the-team press conference with media.

  • Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Ryan Sweeney played HORSE using a couple of basketball nets behind the Cubs facility Tuesday. Sweeney won in a close game against Baez.