Spring

The Cubs are back at Sloan Park for spring training on Saturday. Check back for updates

8:40 a.m.: Tony Barnette fully healed from lat injury

New reliever Tony Barnette raved about his health after missing the final three months of 2018 with the Rangers because of a lat injury.

“Everything is rebounding great,” said Barnette, who posted a 2.39 ERA in 22 appearances. “All the scans show a full heal, and I’ve been rocking and haven’t held anything back. The progress has been phenomenal.”

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Because of the injury, Barnette actually was able to start his offseason program sooner, starting with strengthening his shoulder.

8:25: Albert Almora Jr. looks to turn the page on 2018

The return of spring training helped Albert Almora Jr. ease some of the misery of making the final out of the Cubs’ 2018 season.

“I love this time of year,” said Almora, sporting a curly hairstyle. “You get the new gear, you get the new stuff, you get some new coaches and go play.”

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Almora admitted not advancing further in the playoffs stung, especially since he struck out to cap a 2-1 loss to the Rockies in 13 innings in the National League wild-card game.

“I hate being the last out,” Almora said. “I’ll never forget that. But it hurts for a little bit because as fan of the game, you watch the postseason and watch what unfolds. And we know we can compete with all those guys. We ended a little short, but it’s a little extra fuel and motivation.”

Almora made no excuses for the Cubs’ late offensive siesta.

“I’m a big believer the team that gets hot at the right time is the one that wins. Milwaukee, at that time, didn’t lose. We didn’t play bad, but they outperformed us. You got to give credit when credit is due and turn the page and get ready for this year.”

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Nor did Almora point to the Cubs’ schedule, which featured 42 games in 43 days to end the regular season, as a contributing factor to their late slide.

“I don’t want to say that did, from my aspect,” Almora said. “That wasn’t one of my things I thought of when the season was over. I was fine and healthy and ready to keep going. That mindset of we came up short is what really hit home. It wasn’t what happened during the season because that’s all over with. But that’s the game of baseball.”

mgonzales@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @MDGonzales

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