Ben Zobrist Reports to Camp, Offers No Additional Explanation for Absence

Ben Zobrist reported to Mesa Friday, four days after the official report date for position players. His absence had been chalked up to amorphous “personal reasons,” which naturally led to speculation that something might be up on the trade front, among other things. But any smoke lingering in the spring rain dissipated completely with the 37-year-old’s arrival.

Zobrist offered no additional explanation — and he doesn’t need to, that’s his business — when he spoke to reporters after Friday’s workout, reiterating that it was a personal matter and saying that everything is fine now. He added that he doesn’t expect any further conflicts from here on out.

The idea that Zobrist would be traded heading into the final year of his deal seemed strange to many, particularly when the Cubs had voiced a desire for more leadership on the team. It wouldn’t make sense to trade away a player viewed by many on the outside as a team leader if that quality is indeed valuable. Then again, Zobrist doesn’t have nearly the same presence as David Ross and isn’t someone to whom young players really gravitate.

But with the team perhaps seeking that kind of player, Zobrist told reporters he’s willing to be a little more vocal. Some of that is of his own doing, but he admitted that he’s also looking to change some things at the behest of Joe Maddon and the front office.

“For me, not knowing what my future is next year, I definitely want to take my full responsibility and give whatever I can to the guys and give to this group so we can get back to where we want to be,” Zobrist told reporters.

He also spoke about a committee that was formed late last season to foster open dialogue among some of the players perceived as team leaders. You’ll have to assume for yourself who was part of said group, but suffice to say it was slightly more effective than what the Bulls pulled together in the wake of Fred Hoiberg’s firing.

In any case, it sounds like this is one of those things that will end up as a footnote once game action starts up this weekend. We may never know the specifics of Zobrist’s absence and that’s fine. It’s his deal and the Cubs understood his reasons for not reporting on time, but he’s back and it’s time to move forward.

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