Direct Hendry was easy to respect

Jim Hendry and I didn't see things eye to eye when it came to the speed of my advancement in the Chicago Cubs' minor league system.

In a defining period during my career while Hendry was the Cubs' head of player development, I went to winter ball in Puerto Rico. I came back to the U.S. with winter league MVP trophy in hand, new confidence and new expectations from the Cubs.

Before this point, I had only shown flashes of what the Cubs expected when they drafted me 12th overall in the 1991 draft. At one point, then-Cubs GM Ed Lynch met me in the office after sending me back to Triple-A toward the end of spring training. He said to me "Nice job in Puerto Rico. Now do it again during a championship season ... here."

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