Fowler gets World Series ring in return to Wrigley
CHICAGO (AP) Dexter Fowler played his first game at Wrigley Field on Friday since he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals over the winter.
The Chicago Cubs welcomed him with open arms - and one shiny, gleaming present.
Fowler received his World Series ring from Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward during a pregame ceremony, drawing loud cheers on a picturesque day at the iconic neighborhood ballpark. Fowler then posed for a picture with his former teammates, manager Joe Maddon, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, and general manager Jed Hoyer.
''I finally got my ring,'' Fowler said after St. Louis' 3-2 loss. ''I haven't gotten a chance to look at it but they treated me first-class. That was awesome.''
It was the second ring handed out by Rizzo in less than a day. The All-Star first baseman got engaged to his longtime girlfriend during a boat trip on Lake Michigan on Thursday, complete with fireworks.
''I texted Riz yesterday. I said good thing he's practicing,'' Fowler cracked.
A grinning Rizzo said Fowler also asked if the fireworks were in honor of his return to Chicago.
The 31-year-old Fowler got another loud ovation when he stepped to the plate in the first inning, and he hit a drive to right for his 23rd career leadoff homer. He clapped his hands as he approached home, and a fan threw the ball back on the field.
''He goes about his business the same all the time,'' St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. ''Loves life. Loves the game. Loves his teammates, his former teammates. But he wants to win.''
Fowler was acquired by the Cubs in January 2015 in a trade with Houston. He provided a steady presence on top of the lineup during two successful years with the team, culminating in the franchise's first championship since 1908. The center fielder hit .276 with 13 homers and a .393 on-base percentage in 125 games last season, making the All-Star team for the first time.
The switch hitter signed an $82.5 million, five-year contract from the Cardinals during free agency.
''You could see how we feel about him, even though he's wearing the wrong uniform, we feel that way,'' Maddon said. ''He'll always be part of that group. He's a wonderful young man. We enjoy him. I enjoy him personally. It's good for him, good for his family. This whole thing worked out well for him and for his family, too. So it was nice to share that moment with him today.''
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Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap