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'Cubs Way' -- Part II

(MCT) — MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs had organizational meetings Tuesday on the first day of workouts, making for a long day for manager Dale Sveum.

With many new minor league coaches and coordinators, it was an opportunity for Cubs' brass to go over the prospects in the system and discuss the so-called "Cubs Way" of teaching.

"You're trying to get the same message," Sveum said. "That's what the manual is about, and to make sure all levels are speaking the same language, but also understanding that individuals coach. That's what they're there for — to bring their own insight to things."

President Theo Epstein's philosophy of running an organization may differ from other executives. At a recent meeting of the team's scouts in Chicago, the scouts were reminded to be careful about punctuation and capitalization in their reports. It may seem like small potatoes, but the Cubs apparently believe in the credo of famed architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: "God is in the details."

Spring training arrived in good time at Fitch Park on Tuesday, bringing with it the same renewed optimism evident in every major league camp. Even the Cubs can dream the unthinkable — rebounding from 101 losses and making a World Series for the first time since 1945.

The fields were covered with frost and temperatures were in the mid-30s when players reported Tuesday morning, making for an unusual sight in their final spring at the old and outdated facility.

"Pretty cool," outfielder David DeJesus said. "I wanted to go out there and slide around in it a little bit."

The cold morning dew evaporated in time for batting practice and pitchers fielding practice, where Matt Garza was seen throwing perfect strikes to first base, which, surprisingly, was manned by former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood, now a spring training instructor. Which sight was stranger — Wood at first or Garza not launching a rocket over the dugout — was in the eye of the beholder.

The Cubs obviously are still a work in progress. The first big free agent acquisition of the Epstein regime, starter Edwin Jackson, said the Cubs "brought me here for a reason." Jackson theoretically will stabilize the rotation, and strong starting pitching should give the Cubs a fighting chance on a daily basis.

Coincidentally, during a Cubs-Nationals game last September, Jackson was in the middle of a bench-clearing incident with some of his future teammates.

"I wasn't the negotiator, but I was right there," Jackson recalled. "I was a peacemaker, but I was right there. Somehow I end up in the middle, regardless of whether I was doing anything or not. I could just be standing around watching and observing, and somehow I still look around and I'm like, 'Oh, man, I'm in the middle.'"

Now Jackson is in the middle of a saga entering its second year under Epstein and Sveum. The Cubs sent Sveum and general manager Jed Hoyer out to recruit Jackson in December while Epstein and Chairman Tom Ricketts were wooing Anibal Sanchez in Miami.

When Sanchez signed with the Tigers, Jackson became the primary target. Jackson knew Sanchez was also in their sights, but it didn't matter. He was sold on Sveum's message that he could be a piece of the puzzle on a rebuilding team in a city that eats and breathes baseball.

Sveum said he didn't have to embellish his sales pitch to Jackson.

"Playing for the Cubs sells itself," Sveum said. "This is one of the greatest cities, if not the best city in the country. It's a great venue, the organization is going in the right direction. … That kind of sells itself as well."

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