Reunion week continues at Cubs spring training with a Ben Zobrist sighting

Tribune Content Agency

MESA, Ariz. — Ben Zobrist hasn’t officially retired, so his pop-in at Cubs spring training Tuesday was greeted with the raised eyebrow emoji by curious media types.

But the former Cub super-utility man only is here as a guest instructor, according to the Cubs, and will not be joining the team.

“Just really good to see him,” Kris Bryant said. “He’s one of the best guys I’ve ever played with. He’s so positive and open welcoming and just a family man. It’s really cool I got a chance to play with him for (four) years. The guy had an unbelievable career, too, and just a professional at-bat every time. Seeing him now, as relaxed as he is, makes me very happy.”

Zobrist left the Cubs last May to tend to his family while going through divorce proceedings with his wife, Julianna, only to return in September for one last hurrah. He hit .284 with a .377 OBP in 21 games, with one home run and seven RBIs, but couldn’t help the Cub avoid their end-of-the-season collapse.

While Zobrist never said it was going to be his final season of a 14-year-career, most felt it was the end of the line. He’ll go down as one of the most popular Cubs from the 2016 champions, and is the team’s only player in history to win the Most Valuable Player award in a World Series.

“We love to have him here,” Bryant said. “He definitely can teach us a lot about the game, too. I don’t know what he’s doing here. I don’t know if he’s trying out or what.”

Bryant was joking.

“Maybe he’s trying out,” he continued. “He can still play, 100 percent. He’s been doing it for so long. I don’t know his plans, but it’s great to see him.”

Zobrist follows former Cubs pitcher John Lackey, who has been in camp for days without any official designation after being invited by manager David Ross.

Ross said he advised Lackey not to talk to the media, whom he said were “frothing at the mouth” to interview him. Zobrist was unavailable Tuesday morning.


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