SAN FRANCISCO -– It’s unclear if any current Chicago Cubs reliever will be employed by the team when Wrigley Field renovations are completed, but most are excited by the idea of a new bullpen located underneath the bleachers.
“Anything that’s new like that you tend to get excited about,” Justin Grimm said before the Cubs played the Giants on Tuesday night. “It’s about that time to get it renovated and get things going.”
The Cubs announced Tuesday they plan to finally start work on Wrigley Field in mid-July as the clubhouse will be the first to get a makeover. But eventually they’ll get to the bullpens, which will move to the outfield under the bleachers. Right now, home and road pitchers warm up down the right- and left-field lines in foul territory not far from the field of play -– or fans.
“I like having our own bullpen,” James Russell stated. “Would be great. Interaction with the fans is fine to a certain point. All it takes is a couple of drunk guys to get you off your game. And it’s not fun having to warm up and throw a couple down and get past the catcher and hold up the game. I like where they’re putting them.”
Having their own work space was the most common refrain regarding the new location of the bullpens. Most ballparks have them in the outfield already, so the Cubs are used to it. AT&T Park is one of the few that doesn't; they're also along the foul lines.
“Whatever is more conducive for the pitchers to do their job, I think anyone would want to do that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I think it’s a good thing. They’ll have their space, which is their work environment.”
The extra space a renovated Wrigley Field will possess is the key ingredient for players. More than one over the years has complained about "being on top of each other" in the 100-year-old stadium. A new 30,000-square foot clubhouse will help that, as will a new bullpen under the bleachers.
“It’s good for us to move to where the [batting] cages are,” closer Hector Rondon said. “It will be a better facility for us. We’ll have more room.”
A few pitchers said they would miss some of the entertainment in the stands but realized a better bullpen facility was more important than anything else.
“You do meet some interesting people there but that’s not important,” Grimm said.
What is important is getting the construction started. Everyone has been hearing about it for too long.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Renteria said. “We’re very happy the process is going to get going in the near future.”