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Today the Chicago Cubs head out to Camelback Ranch to take on the White Sox for Spring Training game six. The Cubs have dropped three of five on the season, all three of which featured late scoring against relievers who aren’t likely to be on the big club come April.

Today’s game is the first television broadcast of the Spring, and you can catch the game on WGN, though you’ll have to deal with the White Sox broadcast team (“You can put it on the booooooooooooard…” crap). The game is at 2:05 CT. If you don’t want to hear the TV broadcast, you can listen on Len Kasper and Mick Gillespie on Cubs.com.

We’ve also got a Game Thread going at the Message Board, for those of you who like to chat during the game.

Travis Wood makes his Spring debut today, although he did pitch in an intrasquad game last week. He’s expected to be followed by Randy Wells and Rodrigo Lopez, and also possibly Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo, on whose debut we’re still waiting.

Today’s lineup, which features an Alfonso Soriano return to the top of the order:

1. Alfonso Soriano, DH

2. Darwin Barney, 2B

3. Jeff Baker, RF

4. Bryan LaHair, 1B

5. Marlon Byrd, CF

6. Joe Mather, LF

7. Steve Clevenger, C

8. Junior Lake, SS

9. Edgar Gonzalez, 3B

  • barroof

    This lineup is like a bad 4th line in hockey. We should play Vitters everyday at third and see what we’ve got. Byrd will never be an RBI man. Trade him now.

    • JustSwain

      Byrd proved you wrong in this game. He’s a career .280 guy who had a bad year with RBIs on a lousy team, and yet, he still hit .276. I wish we had more guys on the team who were career .281 hitters who hit .276 during off years. Yeah yeah 33 RBIs I watched the games, I know, but thats baseball. Byrd could have a good year and score 86 runs and hit .290 like he did for us the first year, and it would barely be considered a bounce back. He’s not an RBI guy, I admit it, but he plays awesome Center and hits for average, runs the bases well enough to have decent run totals and a good OBP. I think he’s got great numbers for a #2 hitter, and the only problems he’s likely to face is pressure to hit higher up in the order. Byrd isn’t the one who knocks in the runs, he’s the one who scores them.

      • Joe

        I thought RBI was a crap statistic.

      • TWC

        No, the problem w/ Byrd isn’t his BA or RBI totals, it’s the fact that his OPS has been down four consecutive years in a row, and last year he slugged an anemic .395.  That is bad.  His OBP is pretty meh, too.  Batting average is just about irrelevant to gauge his value on the team.

        • JustSwain

          What about Runs? His total last year wasn’t embarrassing considering the team he was playing for and he had 84 for us the year before that. His OPS has gone down the last two years, but not too very far below his career average. He’s always been a bit up and down with good years and bad years, and I’m hoping last year was a low point for him. His slugging did drop, but it was just one completely off year, with a team that had almost no chemistry, a horrible manager, and was irrelevant in the standings from a pretty early point. I think Chemistry is a big factor for a palyer who is as involved with his team as Marlon Byrd. I think looking at him physically I have no reason to believe that he doesn’t have the potential to raise that slugging %, or his OBP, or his RBIs. If we see a spate of spring training, or early season injuries (groin or hammie) I’ll change my position, otherwise…lets give him a shot this year and see what he does. Its not like we have a ton of ML ready offense ready to take over Center. Also…he’s good with the glove, gets great jumps and isn’t intimidated by the wall.

          • TWC

            “His OPS has gone down the last two years…”

            No, four years in a row.  Even in his “great” year for the Cubs, he was just a shade above average.  I don’t dislike the guy, I think his work ethic is admirable.  He’s just a player in decline — and that’s apparent in nearly every offensive category.  I’m not advocating that he be traded away.  I’ll wait until Brett Jackson gets called up for that.

            • JustSwain

              Player in decline I will grant you, but then again, sometimes a solid player who is in decline can have quite an impact on a team. I’m not arguing that he should be re-signed as a regular after this year, I’m arguing that he still has value to the team beyond his great attitude, and that last year will not necessarily reflect his stats this year.

              • TWC

                I don’t disagree a whit with that.

  • Edwin

    Hawk seems to be one of those guys you either love or you hate. Except without the love part.

    • Joker

      This comment is my pick to click.

    • Chris S

      Ken Harrelson has always come off to me as extremely pretentious. Like he is doing everyone this huge favor by calling their games.. Good God I can’t stand him.

    • hardtop

      i can stop laughing at this.

  • CubFan Paul

    Does anyoe know how Campana’s bat has been this spring? as in, can he get the ball to the outfield (..over the shortstop & in front of the left fielder consistently needs to be his bread & butter)

    If he loses 5th OF spot to Sappelt or Mather that would be a complete failure on his part (sappelt is a reed johnson clone)

  • CubSouth

    You can always do what I do (when it’s the White Sox announcers) and turn the volume all the way down.

  • Richard Nose

    Thanks, I just threw up on myself.

  • Diesel

    The only thing I have ever found amusing about the sox announcers was back when Glen Allen Hill was still with the cubs and he was at bat, as soon as he made contact the sox announcers immediately said, “uh oh.”  It was great.  I can’t stand listening to them.  Go Cubs!

  • Mike Foster

    Finally i get to watch a game on MLBTV….and I should be listening to our announcers.

    Brett, is this the first game start for Junior Lake at SS?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      No – he started a few days ago against the Rockies.

  • Hebner the gravedigger

    First time posting, but love this website…it makes living & working in ‘Sota bearable, eh!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, Heb. We do what we can.

  • North Side Irish

    Walk and a steal for Junior Lake. Needs to show a lot of that this year, especially taking a walk. Lack of baseball skills is the big knock on him, so learning to take a pitch would be huge for him.

  • SouthernCub

    “You can put it on the booooooooooooard…” I’m gonna punch that guy in the face one day

    • Edwin

      You could try putting a bounty out on him.

    • hardtop

      this has nothing to do with the white sox: hawk harrelson is the worst announcer in the game of baseball; on television or radio, in any country, and at any level of the game. i have never heard a more imbecilic-homer-hack in all my life, and i have no doubt that no one will ever approach, let a lone equal, his on-air shittiness. if he was with any other team, i would hate him just as much (more if he were with the cardinals). if i ever have the misfortune of being in the same room with him i will, at the very least, tell him what an absolute embarrassment he is to baseball, assuming i can resist unleashing a fury of blows to his head and neck area first.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        It’s really painful. I don’t understand why anyone – including White Sox fans – would enjoy him.

        • hardtop

          i know 2 real sox fans and they both absolutely hate his presence in the broadcast booth

      • Richard Nose

        hahaha so true. on air shittiness. I just turned WGN on 90 seconds ago, I want to smash his face already. He’s such a giant piece of shit. His nicknames and his homer tendancies enrage me. Stone lost all cred sitting next to him.

  • jim

    Stone is best analyst. Shud b gm. Btw, just said nice stuff bout sharks stuff.

  • AP

    Watching the game right now and just saw the “Cubs win” commercial people were talking about the other day. Part of me thinks it should be illegal for companies to play with me like that…

  • JustSwain

    Wells and Rodrigo Lopez both pitched very well today, and Wood was pretty good as well. O.k. so what I think we can take from this is that the competition for starter slots on the Cubs is really ramping up. Its spring training, not everyone is playing to the best of their abilities, pitchers are experimenting, hitters are still slow, so these numbers we are seeing are by no means indicitive of what we are going to see during the season. That being said, Cubs starters are hungry, they are making a point of being on, using their best pitches, getting people out. By the time the regular season gets started I think its possible the bottom of our rotation will be a bit more ready than the rest of the league. Since its so deep there is little risk of burnout…I’m beginning to think that Theo overloaded the rotation for a reason. He wants to see the best out of these guys, let them compete, let them know that they can’t coast into a slot, dig deep, and show the organization what you’ve got. The results so far have been pretty exceptional; Five marginal players all of whom had equal or better first outings than Yu Darvish’s much touted debut in Texas. Something is going on down there in Mesa… This might be the first flash of true genius I am seeing out of this front office. I love it, instead of showing confidence and telling players “you can do it!” they are making them compete, and if they win they won’t need anyone to tell them “you can do it!” because they will have already proved that. Stay hungry guys, I love what I’m seeing.

    • MaxM1908

      Not to mention, even when they do win the job, they’ll always know there are two or three other guys in the bullpen who could step into their shoes should they fail. I think looking over the shoulder is a great motivator for pitchers. Now, if only we had a solid closer to challenge Marmol for his job…

      • JustSwain

        Yeah, but Marmol isn’t in the same boat. He’s a veteran now, he shouldn’t need that kind of motivation. We’ve all seen what he is capable of, and now we have to wait and see if he can find the consistency he needs to be a dominant closer. This is his make or break year, and that should be motivation enough. The Cubs aren’t expected to contend this year, Marmol is going to be the closer, but if he doesn’t perform to the utmost of his ability, he’s a candidate for a trade deadline move. Even if he has bad stats at that point in the season, teams will look at past performance and give him trade value based on potential, especially if they are desperate for late inning relief. If the Cubs thought they had a realistic chance to compete this year, I’m pretty sure they would have picked up Madson and moved Marmol into the setup roll alongside Wood. Since they don’t, Marmol gets one last chance to see what he can do. I’m sure he knows it, and I’m sure he feels that pressure.

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