CHICAGO — A crowd of photographers gathered around Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein during batting practice when he strolled over to the Red Sox side of the field.
The atmosphere was cordial before the Cubs played the Red Sox. Epstein, the former Sox general manager, spoke at length to Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz, two players he drafted. Kevin Youkilis, another Epstein favorite was in the conversation, too.
Former Red Sox executives Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod were flanking Epstein. They were once Epstein lieutenants in Boston before leaving the organization for San Diego. They fled the Padres for the Cubs when Epstein put the band back together last fall.
Valentine shook hands with Epstein on the field. Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, Epstein’s one-time mentor and later his foil, was at the park but was not on the field at the same time as Epstein.
Sox owner John Henry is in the ballpark, too. Former manager Terry Francona will be on hand Sunday to call the game for ESPN.
There’s enough drama and dark secrets in the air at Wrigley this weekend to fill a Russian novel.
“It’s one of those things where you can’t wait for it to come and you can’t wait for it to be over, either,” Epstein said. “Hopefully three good games, we can get a couple of wins and move on. It will be great to see everybody.”
Epstein tried to deflect the attention being paid to him.
“It’s not as much about me I don’t think,” he said. “Any time you’re with the Red Sox and get to go to a place like Wrigley Field it’s a special experience to see a ballpark like this and play a team you don’t get to play and all the fans come out.”
In terms of news, there's not much. But:
• Daniel Nava (left hand) took BP and appears to be available if needed.
• Cody Ross will not play for Pawtucket until Sunday. But he is with them today.