“I want you to know he was very beloved, and he is going to be dearly missed by family, friends and all of his fans… People have called Ernie Banks the ambassador of baseball, but in reality he was an ambassador for humanity… He loved people and wanted to hear their stories of their lives, not talk about his . . . Instead of talking about baseball, he would talk about life.”
—Liz Banks, wife of Ernie Banks (Mitch Dudek, Chicago Sun-Times)

“Ernie Banks’ legacy extends far beyond his Hall of Fame stats. He was beloved by generations of people for the way he played on the field and — more importantly — for the kind and warm person he was off the field. We are bringing Ernie’s statue to Daley Plaza to honor not just one of the best ballplayers of all time, but a great man who made our city proud from the day we first met him in 1953.”
—Mayor Rahm Emanuel, on moving a statue of Banks that is normally on on a corner outside Wrigley Field to Daley Plaza (Mitch Dudek, Chicago Sun-Times)

“Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all-time. He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I’ve ever known. Approachable, ever optimistic and kind-hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub.”
—Cubs owner and chairman Tom Ricketts (Patrick Mooney, CSN Chicago)

“Ernie came up through the Negro Leagues, making $7 a day. He became the first African-American to play for the Chicago Cubs, and the first number the team retired. Along the way, he became known as much for his 512 home runs and back-to-back National League MVPs as for his cheer, his optimism, and his love of the game. As a Hall-of-Famer, Ernie was an incredible ambassador for baseball, and for the city of Chicago. He was beloved by baseball fans everywhere, including Michelle, who, when she was a girl, used to sit with her dad and watch him play on TV. And in 2013, it was my honor to present Ernie with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Somewhere, the sun is shining, the air is fresh, his team’s behind him, and Mr. Class — ‘Mr. Cub’ — is ready to play two.”
—President Obama, in a statement mourning Banks (Marissa Payne, The Washington Post)


"It was jaw-dropping. You just can't even fathom it sometimes. You work so hard to put yourself in this position. For me, it's all about winning. I don't play this game for money, but at the same time, when you have an offer like that, it just makes you go, 'Wow.'"
Max Scherzer, on signing to the second-largest contract for a pitcher in MLB history. The $210 million contract will pay Scherzer over 14 years, with half of the money being deferred. (Bill Ladson,

“When I signed here, I had those same aspirations. But my decision to come here was probably more surprising than Max coming here. At the time, all you heard was all these people commenting on how stupid it was for the Nats and how winning wasn’t a concern of mine. I think with Max saying ‘It’s simple’ and ‘I want to win,’ I wish I was in that situation and coulda said ‘I want to win.’ But at the time, it didn’t really fit so that’s not what I said but wanted to say. My point is here: It was a very proud moment for me. The team that I believed in and decided to play for and all the reasons of why I wanted to come here were all about winning. Here we are a few years later, we have attracted the No. 1 free agent pitcher, one of the nastiest pitchers in all of baseball, and we’ve attracted this guy in probably the biggest year of the franchise, especially in my contract, and it made me smile. As soon as he said that, it hit home. It was so relevant to me. I’ve been through that. But not in the same context per say. It was a proud moment. I was proud to be a Nat.”
Jayson Werth, on signing his own large contract with the Nationals in December 2010 and his reaction to Scherzer signing and saying that he signed because he wants to win (James Wagner, The Washington Post)

“I think it’s his change-up and his slider’s better. As a young pitcher, certainly his arm’s there, it’s always there … when he closed for me in the fall league, it was upwards of 101, 102. He’s learned how to control his change-up and his slider, and that’s what’s made him get to the top five pitchers in baseball.”
—Nationals manager Matt Williams, on Scherzer (Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post)


Wilmer Flores really just wants the offseason to end already.

The Rest

“A lot of the research I've been doing on peak performers [shows] they don't think,” Bauer said. “They're not really conscious of what they're doing. I've added that. A piece of my training program is doing exercises to force myself to work in an unconscious or a subconscious realm, as opposed to a conscious realm.”
—Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, on training himself to not overthink when he’s on the mound. (Zack Meisel,

“As with a lot of players, when they get to certain points in their career, and/or just as the makeup of the team changes, some of your responsibilities do too,” Hinch said. “Carter’s going to be an example. Gattis is an example. Just about every outfielder is an example of playing outside maybe their comfort zone. You know, outside of our catchers and (Jose) Altuve, and probably (Jed) Lowrie, we’re going to preach versatility, and that includes Dominguez putting on a first base glove, learning a little bit on that side. He’s competing for the third base job, which I made clear to him. But adding to his versatility will only help him make this team, him compete to get the at-bats that everybody wants.”
—Astros manager A.J. Hinch, on the versatility that will be expected of several players this upcoming season including long-time third baseman Matt Dominguez, who will be asked to play some first base this season due to the addition of Luis Valbuena. (Evan Drellich, Houston Chronicle)

“I've been asked that question before, and it all comes down to the fact that I enjoy being on the field,” Willis said. “I suck at golf. I don't have an Xbox, and I have four daughters. I just love the camaraderie of baseball. Even when I'm done playing, I'll be coaching. I'll get a fungo bat, and I'll be even louder than I am now.”
—Brewers pitcher Dontrelle Willis, on whether he’s contemplated retiring. The former Marlins star signed a minor-league deal with Milwaukee last week. (Jerry Crasnick,

“There’s no doubt,” Rasmus said. “That turf is rough on your body, especially when you’re playing 50-some games in a row. It can grind on you. I was definitely playing hard, I was diving on that turf. As we know, our pitching staff — I’m not trying to throw no rocks here — our pitching staff struggled at times, so I was on that field a lot running around. Sometimes I don’t think that was credited as much as I feel it should have been.”
—Astros outfielder Colby Rasmus, on the difficulty of playing on artificial turf while a member of the Blue Jays. (Evan Drellich, Houston Chronicle)

“Obviously, I have to work on my approach as a leadoff hitter. It’s a lot different. You’re a table-setter; you want to see some pitches, allow the team to understand what that pitcher has during that day. It’s definitely a different approach coming into that leadoff batter. I can definitely ask Matt (Carpenter) to help me with that. He’s probably one of the best leadoff hitters we’ve had. To have someone like him, if he does move down in the lineup, it would be perfect for me to pick his brain a little bit.”
—Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, on the possibility of hitting leadoff (Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

“He's trying way too hard," Maddon said. "I want him to back off. The last thing I want him to do is try to impress me tonight. … I said, 'Hit a couple singles and, above all, I want to see you smile.'”
—Cubs manager Joe Maddon, on traveling to to Puerto Rico this weekend to watch Javier Baez play winter ball. Through Baez’ first 23 games (including playoffs), he is 20-for-96 with four doubles, two home runs and 37 strikeouts. (Carrie Muskat,

“I think everybody can logically see that there's only so many spots out there for so many players,” Murphy said. “I'm prepared to lose playing time, but not to the point where I'm going to get 150 at-bats. If that's the case, and that's the best-case scenario for them and for me, I'm open to [a trade]. But I feel like this team has a great chance to win, and for that reason, I would love to be here.”
—Indians outfielder David Murphy, who is likely to lose playing time after the offseason acquisition of Brandon Moss. (Jordan Bastian,

"I also understand the business of this game and trust very much our front office and our ownership group to make wise decisions. To be able to go out and just spend is not something this organization has done. We've made calculated decisions and I've been very impressed just to jump in and listen and watch the vision of not just 2015 but many years beyond, and the restraints that are there. Just knowing our organization is looking for those opportunities but there has to be a line that you draw and that's just being business smart."
—Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, on the Cardinals organization targeting starting pitchers but not making any big signings yet (Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

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