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Departure as Cubs’ broadcaster surprised Brenly

Published: Monday, Feb. 18, 2013 9:28 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — MESA, Ariz. — Former Cubs TV analyst Bob Brenly said Saturday he thought he was returning to the Cubs broadcast booth before a deal with business president Crane Kenney fell through.

“It was unbelievably tough to leave,” Brenly said during a visit to spring training camp, where his son, Michael, is a non-roster invitee. “Long story short, we thought we had a deal done.

“Woke up the next morning and there were some issues with the contract. One thing led to another and that kind of opened up negotiations with the Diamondbacks and it rolled downhill quickly. The Diamondbacks were willing to give me the years and the money that WGN and Comcast (SportsNet) could just not guarantee. Not a bad Plan B.”

Brenly received a five-year deal to replace Mark Grace in the Diamondbacks’ booth. The Cubs would not guarantee Brenly more than two years because they plan to open up bidding rights to games next year. Their contract with longtime home WGN-TV expires after 2014 and the Cubs figure to cash in.

Brenly understood.

“They certainly did not want to guarantee me a contract when they might not even be carrying the games,” he said. .”

MLB Network analyst Dan Plesac thought he was going to take Brenly’s job, a source said, before finding out, like Brenly, the contract was not guaranteed if WGN loses broadcast rights. The Cubs later signed Astros analyst Jim Deshaies to a four-year deal.

———

Parallel bunts: Cubs President Theo Epstein managed to beat general manager Jed Hoyer in the bunting tournament bunt-off Saturday. Epstein was knocked out in the second-round by 25-year-old Director of Baseball Operations Scott Harris.

Epstein was just glad to beat Hoyer.

“I have to get better,” he said. “I’m better than Jed, but that’s not saying much.”

Video man Nate Halm was the bunt-off winner and advanced to the players’ bracket.

Extra Innings: Travis Wood and Jeff Samardzija will start the first two Cactus League games, respectively, next Saturday and Sunday. ... Luis Valbuena and Ian Stewart will compete for the third base job that manager Dale Sveum says is Stewart’s “job to win.” Valbuena will make the team either way, though the third baseman is not taking his spot for granted. “I don’t feel comfortable (just being) here,” he said.

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