CHICAGO -- Some people might save a bottle of champagne, or perhaps a cigar, for a major accomplishment.
Adrian Cardenas saved his first trip to Chicago for such an occasion.
Called up to the major leagues Monday for the first time in his career, Cardenas marveled at how big Lake Michigan is and admitted that it is his first ever visit to the city. The promotion came nearly three months to the day that he was claimed off waivers by the Cubs from the Oakland Athletics.
“I had a chance to come here this offseason when I got claimed and I elected not to, sort of because I realized if I had the opportunity to get here I wanted the first time to be for a call up,” Cardenas said. “It worked out.”
The proverbial kid in the candy store, Cardenas spent the afternoon taking in the old ballpark at Clark and Addison.
“It’s awesome," Cardenas said. “The ivy, I pushed it a little bit and didn’t realize it was that thick. I tried to stick a ball in there to see what happens. I’m just a little overwhelmed. Anything I say right now would be cliché so I’ll spare you the clichés. But it’s great.”
Yes, Cardenas was every bit as “aw, shucks” as he sounded, smiling broadly at all times and not a bit self conscious over being so giddy.
“I didn’t even see the stadium until I was out here,” he said. “I couldn’t see it from far away. It kind of sneaks up on you and I thought that was pretty fun. Right in the neighborhood, that’s awesome. The seats on the apartment buildings, or lofts, that’s amazing.”
It was easy to forgive him for the slight slip of the tongue when he said that he remembered watching the Cubs play in the 2003 World Series.
“ I remember growing up in Miami, seeing the World Series … no, not the World Series, the playoffs and the whole incident with [Steve] Bartman and everything,” he said. “Just seeing that and playing for the Cubs now is amazing.”
Cardenas called Iowa teammates Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo “unbelievable talents” and said they “will be up here soon.” But Cardenas beat them both to Chicago. In fact, when Cardenas got the call that he was being promoted, he was eating with Jackson.
“I left there in a hurry," Cardenas said. “Brett paid for my meals. He said, ‘Get out of here and go call whoever you need to call.’ And I did and it’s been great so far.”
That good will and camaraderie at Iowa has extended to the play on the field.
“It’s a great atmosphere,” Cardenas said of the club in Iowa. “It’s the trickle effect. I haven’t been [with the Cubs] but I’m sure you can attest to this, everybody is working hard and playing hard. Base running down there is crucial. It’s key. Everybody is busting it. We really have a great group of guys who hold themselves accountable and that’s important.”
As for Rizzo, Iowa’s offensive juggernaut, Cardenas gave rave reviews.
“He’s one of the hardest workers I have ever seen,” Cardenas said. “And as good as he is offensively, he’s that much better defensively. He’s an unbelievable talent. When we have [Bryan] LaHair and Rizzo in this lineup it’s going to be, ‘Watch out.’”