4/5 Opening Day at Wrigley

Theo Epstein is well aware he’s been the focus this offseason. On Opening Day, he said, it should shift to the Cubs.

“That’s nice and a complement but I’m realistic to know if that’s the case, it’s because I’m a symbol,” said Epstein, the Cubs president of baseball operations, who took over the team last October. “It’s not me. There are dozens and dozens and dozens of people — the players first and foremost — who working extremely hard trying to push the organization forward.”

He included the Cubs ownership, manager Dale Sveum and the rest of the baseball operations staff.

“I’m one small person in a very big machine,” Epstein said. “Not only have I not done anything yet but I’m a small part of it.”

Opening Day is the perfect start.

“It’s a special day, one of the best days of the year and the feeling of renewal is amplified every time you’re with a new team,” Epstein said.

“Opening Day is the one day of the year that doesn’t feel like any other days,” Epstein said. “I really cherish the second day of the year because that’s when the baseball rhythms kick in, you see the people at the park who will be with you the whole year and you get into your routine. That’s when it feels like baseball. Opening Day feels like a holiday. That second day of the year is when it all kicks in.”

There are some who feel Epstein is powerful enough to have made the ivy on the outfield walls bloom in time for the season opener between the Cubs and Nationals. Actually, it’s because of the early summer-like weather in Chicago in March.

“I was telling someone last night, I hope that’s a good omen,” Epstein said of the ivy. “We’ll take it as a sign of good things to come.”

The red, white and blue bunting may be on the ballpark and optimism is high but there’s still work to do.

“Maybe this completes the transition phase for me personally coming to new surroundings,” said Epstein, who was with the Red Sox from November 2002 until he joined the Cubs. “But it’s just another day. Nothing stops on Opening Day as far as we’re concerned. We need to do something every day to better the organization.

“The best time for reflection is the morning after sipping champagne when you win a World Series,” he said. “Until then, you keep plodding forward and try not to look back too much.”

– Carrie Muskat

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