Cubs celebrate Jackie Robinson West

CHICAGO -- At first, Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria called it ironic that U.S. champions Jackie Robinson West were hanging out with a team that hasn’t won a title in over 100 years but he quickly changed his mind.

“If the enthusiasm of those young men can be equaled by the young men we have in our clubhouse, we have a good shot,” Renteria said Monday morning. “But I think we have a good shot moving forward simply because the talent pool is significantly better for us.”

“Maybe it won’t be ironic. Maybe it will be prophetic.”

That’s the kind of inspiration the 12-and 13-year olds kids have had around town as they’ve been celebrated since returning from the Little League World Series last month where they took second place overall.

“It’s still a dream,” Robinson coach Darold Butler said. “I haven’t touched the ground yet. I’m sure the kids haven’t touched the ground yet.”

The kids met Cubs players in the dugout before their matinee contest against the Milwaukee Brewers while Renteria gave them a speech about continuing to “enjoy the game.” The theme that keeps coming up is that baseball is fun and should at least be experienced by kids no matter where they grow up.

“I hope everyone gives baseball a try at least,” Butler said. “Baseball is something I love. I’m hoping other people find a way to fall in love with it like I did.”

Besides meeting Cubs players, Jackie Robinson West got a tour of the clubhouse, walked the warning track before the game and sang during the seventh-inning stretch.

“It’s our job to give them a spotlight,” reliever Wesley Wright said. “It’s very appropriate for the story and bringing this city together.”