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Jimmy Gonzalez set for fourth season leading South Bend Cubs

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - As the South Bend Cubs return to action, fans will see new faces just like every other summer.

But since the organization became a Cubs affiliate, there has been a familiar face through it all: manager Jimmy Gonzalez.

"It's just a fun time," Gonzalez said of Opening Day. "It's exciting every time you're able to teach these guys and show them the ropes."

This summer marks the fourth season Gonzalez stands at the helm of the Cubs dugout, and his fifth overall within the Cubs umbrella.

Looking back, he says it was an easy job to take, given the widespread support of the big league ball club.

"The first year I knew there was excitement here because the Cubs were coming to town," he said. "We saw the fan base, how it continued to grow, and then the following year even bigger."

Part of that growth in support has been generated by the team's commitment to South Bend as well, which Gonzalez believes the city has reciprocated.

"Just the things we were doing in the community, the things that South Bend Cubs were being involved in [were exciting]," he said. "This year I'm sure it's going to be even more than previous years. It's exciting when you see that fan base and that support, it makes it easier to go out there and perform."

To continue that support, Gonzalez hopes to put a good product out on the field, mainly by developing the youngest Cubs talent.

"I'm still learning about a lot of these guys because they're first year guys. To come out here see the growth from now until the end of the season is amazing."

And that's the ultimate goal: to prepare these players to take the next step in their careers.

"It's gratifying for us as staff members and that's what we're here for, to make them grow. Now they're in the big leagues and doing what they learned here and kept doing throughout their minor league career."

Gonzalez will be joined in the dugout with a couple more returning staff members. Pitching coach Brian Lawrence and hitting coach Ricardo Medina both return, joined by new assistant Paul McAnulty.

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