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Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Cubs bonding in face of adversity

By Bruce Levine

Cubs
After extra work and a bonding session Monday, the Cubs lost their seventh straight.
As the Chicago Cubs try to avoid sinking to the bottom of the National league standings, their work ethic and fellowship continue to stay afloat.

After Carlos Zambrano met with manager Mike Quade on Monday and formally apologized to teammate Carlos Marmol for his derogatory comments from the previous day, there were some positive signs in the clubhouse.

About 20 out of 25 players were on the field at 2 p.m. taking extra fielding and batting practice on Monday, following two walk-off losses in St. Louis. The coaches were working hard with the fielders. The hitters were doing their thing.

The last time this type of bonding happened was in 2008 with players like Kerry Wood, Ryan Dempster, Reed Johnson and Mark DeRosa leading the way. And that was during ideal conditions during a successful season.

After the extra fielding and hitting, 20 of the 25 players were watching "The Hangover Part II."

From my point of view, the Cubs are doing their best to keep a losing group together. That's probably one of the most difficult things to accomplish in sports. And more importantly, Zambrano was a big part of the solidarity on Monday. He was in the group laughing it up during the movie.

More importantly, Zambrano shared a lot of time with Carlos Marmol during batting practice. For most pitchers, after they're done their side throwing and running, there's not much left to do during batting practice, except to stay on the field with their teammates and show solidarity. On Monday, Zambrano and Marmol spent 10 minutes near the shortstop position taking a few ground balls and bonding and repairing their friendship as well as their status as teammates.

The way Zambrano presented the Cubs' plight on Sunday was wrong, however the stinging comments he made contained a large element of truth.

But the Cubs' rotation is now back in place with Randy Wells and Matt Garza almost 100 percent.

The Cubs as a team are keeping their clubhouse together somehow, but at some point they need some good health and better play on the field in order to start climbing back in the standings.