Tampa Bay Sports Day

MLB Notebook: 5 Million Revel in Celebration at ‘Cubstock 2016’

The parade 108 years in the making captivated Chicago on Friday as an estimated 5 million fans turned out during a celebration ceremony for the Cubs’ World Series triumph over the Cleveland Indians.  The victory lap for the ages meandered for seven miles through a city still somewhat shellshocked that the Cubs are champions for the first time since.  The motorcade of double-decker buses left Wrigley Field shortly before 11 a.m. CT and rolled through downtown before eventually reaching mammoth Grant Park. Manager Joe Maddon captured the feeling at the ensuing rally by yelling out to the throngs of fans.  “Welcome to Cubstock 2016,” Maddon roared. “You guys are the best. Congratulations.”  President of baseball operations Theo Epstein, the architect of the team, was serenaded with chants of “Theo! Theo! Theo!” while the buses rolled down city streets.

–Chicago Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler is becoming a free agent but has not counted out a return to the World Series champion Chicago Cubs.The 30-year-old Fowler re-signed with the Cubs last offseason on a one-year, $8 million contract that included a mutual option worth $9 million for 2017, but he apparently won’t be picking up his side of the deal.  “I’m definitely going to be a free agent, but hopefully it happens a little bit quicker than last year,” Fowler told ESPN on Thursday night. “You can’t control what goes on, but I loved my time in Chicago and I’m definitely not counting them out, but we’ll see what God has planned for us now.” Fowler opened Game 7 of the World Series with a solo home run off Cleveland Indians starter Corey Kluber in the top of the first inning at Progressive Field on Wednesday night, and the Cubs went on to a thrilling 8-7 win in 10 innings to end their 108-year championship drought.

–Noted Chicago Cubs fan Steve Bartman didn’t attempt to catch Friday’s celebratory parade in Chicago in person.  Bartman, ostracized in Chicago for his role in the team’s collapse in the 2003 National League Championship Series, is overjoyed that the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in the World Series, according to spokesman Paul Murtha.  But participating in such a huge public celebration wasn’t part of his Friday schedule.  Murtha said that Bartman didn’t want to be “a distraction to the accomplishments of the players and the organization,” Murtha told USA Today.

–The Cleveland Indians exercised contract options Friday on manager Terry Francona for the 2019 and 2020 seasons to keep him at the helm for at least another four more years.
The 57-year-old Francona just finished his fourth season with the Indians, who won the American League Central with a 94-67 record (.584) and defeated the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays in the postseason to win the AL pennant before losing the World Series to the Chicago Cubs in seven games on Wednesday night. The Indians reached the World Series for the first time since 1997.  Francona was given praise for being gracious after the Indians’ heartbreaking loss in Game 7.  “You know, we ask our players to play the game with respect and to leave it on the field,” Francona told FOX Sports’ Tom Verducci after the 8-7, 10-inning loss in the game that ended early Thursday morning. “That was it, they gave everything they had. And I kind of talked about it before the game, what an honor it was, but it really is. To go through that with this group and these people, it was an honor.

–The Arizona Diamondbacks will name Boston Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo as their new manager, according to multiple reports Friday.  Lovullo, 51, spent the last four seasons with the Red Sox as manager John Farrell’s bench coach. Lovullo served a 49-game stint as Boston’s interim manager during the 2015 season when Farrell went on medical leave to undergo treatment for lymphoma. Under Lovullo, the Red Sox went 28-21.  Lovullo returned to his job as bench coach in 2016 and the Red Sox won the American League East.  Lovullo was at the top of the Diamondbacks’ list as soon as general manager Mike Hazen was hired in mid-October. Hazen was general manager of the Red Sox but did not have final say over baseball operations with Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations.

–The Seattle Mariners claimed left-handed relief pitcher Dean Kiekhefer off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday.  Kiekhefer, 27, made 26 relief appearances with St. Louis after making his major league debut on May 14. Over five stints with the Cardinals, he held opponents scoreless in 20 of 26 appearances. Overall, he was 0-0 with a 5.32 ERA over 22 innings.  Kiekhefer also appeared in 29 games with Triple-A Memphis, going 6-1 with two saves and a 2.08 ERA over 34 2/3 innings.

–The Kansas City Royals picked up the $10 million club option on All-Star closer Wade Davis on Friday.
Kansas City also exercised the $6.5 million club option on shortstop Alcides Escobar for 2017.
Meanwhile, designated hitter Kendrys Morales and right-hander Edinson Volquez declined their mutual options. Kansas City also declined its mutual option on Kris Medlen despite the right-hander exercising it on his end.  Morales, Volquez and Medlen will all become free agents