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The 4-4 Chicago Cubs return to HoHoKam Park to host the Cincinnati Reds, who’ll throw Bronson Arroyo and his beautiful locks out there. Try not to be distracted, boys.

The game is at 3:05 CT, and will be on WGN Radio (featuring Len Kasper filling in for Pat Hughes). We’ll also do the Game Thread thing over at the Message Board.

Paul Maholm will make his first Spring start for the Cubs, and, although he’s believed to be a lock for the rotation, he’s got to be feeling just a bit of pressure, given the great starts Randy Wells, Chris Volstad, and Jeff Samardzija have gotten off to this Spring (and Travis Wood isn’t terrible). Speaking of Samardzija, he could also get some work in today, after Maholm. Ditto Kerry Wood, Carlos Marmol, and Lendy Castillo.

Today’s Cubs lineup sees the return of the DH, and gigantic shortstop, Junior Lake:

1. Brett Jackson, RF

2. Marlon Byrd, CF

3. Ian Stewart, 3B

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Bryan LaHair, 1B

6. Geovany Soto, C

7. Darwin Barney, 2B

8. Steve Clevenger, DH

9. Junior Lake, SS

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    I’m not sure gigantic is the right word for Lake.  That implies someone of a Shaq or Prince like physique.

    Lake is more… narrow… than that.  He’s built more like Reggie Miller.

    Unless, of course, he’s grown another three inches since his last start.

    • Mike Foster

      I kept being reminded of Dave Winfield when i saw him bat. And thought he should have used Sori’s, the bat he had looked waaay too small.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        At the rate he’s going, he could use Tony Campana as a bat before the end of the season.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      6’11″, 290 at last check. Growing an inch and 10 lbs per day.

      • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

        That is an old report you are reading Brett.

        I now have him at 8′ 7 3/4″ 410 pounds, additionally, it appears that the Redskins are willing to send $475M, their next 46 2nd round picks and Joe Gibbs to the Cubs for him.

        • Patrick

          Nice

    • TWC

      “…someone of a Shaq or Prince like physique.”

      You kidding?  Prince is like 5′ 2″!  Plays a wicked guitar though…

      • Brady

        He means because of width for prince, not really height and th guitar reference is the artist formally known as Prince now known as weird symbol thing.

  • Steven

    Len and Keith should bring an interesting dynamic to the booth

    • TWC

      Ugh… that’s my least favorite of the possible announcer combos.

      • Bric

        Agreed. I’d rather listen to Will Ferrell doing a Harry impression. I Still don’t understand how Moreland got the job over Suttcliffe though I’m not sure Suttcliffe was ever that interested.

        • TWC

          He might not have been, but wasn’t he pretty sick at the time, too?

          • daveyrosello

            Sutcliffe can only travel a couple days a week at most, he has cancer. In remission, but he gets sick pretty easy. That’s why he likes the national TV gig, it involves just one day of travel.

        • Patrick

          Love Sut, but I always think of that dubacle with him sauced up talking w/ Matt V during the Padres game in like 06 I think. Just classic!

  • T Wags

    Clevenger is my favorite for the backup catcher duties. Love his left-handed swing

  • Deer

    wish they would have had this lineup yday when it was televised. It was painful to watch reed, blake, byrd and baker all start on the same day.

  • TSB

    Why don’t the Cubs carry three catchers on their opening day roster? The problem with only having two catchers is that there is some reluctence to use one for pinch hitting, as that would leave you with no one to catch is the starting catcher leaves the game because of injury or whatever. Beside, catcher is one position where the Cubs have an access of talent, so they could have Soto start, and Castillo or Clevenger pinch hit or come into the game late as needed.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    With Clevenger, they conceivably could.  Clevenger can play enough third and first he could handle a reserve bench role and play primarily as a left handed pinch hitter.

    But he’d probably be better off playing every day in Iowa.

    • MichiganGoat

      I also see one of the three being traded by the deadline

      • Bric

        I do, too, and depending on how the season shakes out the name to get traded could easily be Soto. Seniority and past awards won’t count in this competition.

    • Noah

      And you’d also have the question if the likely offensive downgrade from DeWitt or Cardenas would be worth it for the, what, 2 or 3 times a season having a 3rd catcher would be really helpful? Honestly, I have a feeling Clevenger will be the backup and Castillo will be in Iowa getting every day PAs.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Toss in the Cubs’ likely desire to carry 12 pitchers, and you’ve only got a five-man bench. Can’t have two of those five being catchers, no matter how theoretically versatile Clevenger might be.

  • TonyP

    Marmol in- lead gone.

     

  • matt

    Seriously, does he have any minor league options left. He can’t throw a strike!

    • MichiganGoat

      Marmol may have just entered into the Boston PTBNL conversation, if they take his salary I say they do it.

      ***I’m half reactionary and half serious***

    • AP

      It looks like he has one option remaining but sadly, because of his service time he has to both clear optional waiver assignment and accept the assignment. Hopefully this is just the Arizona air messing with his slider.

      • MichiganGoat

        If a team picked him up on waivers would they have to take his contract? I doubt anyone wants his contract.

        • AP

          I’m not an options expert, but from what I gather if another team claims him and signs him to a contract less than what the Cubs are paying him, the Cubs have to pay Marmol the difference between the two.

          • AP

            In the end I think discussions about options for Marmol are over-reactionary, he’s been good before and despite all the blown saves, wasn’t horrible last year. I think he’ll be solid in the pen this year but he may get yanked from being the closer. It was fun learning a little more about options, though.

            • MichiganGoat

              Um he was very bad last year, if he continues to perform like last year he has very little value to a team.

              • AP

                He was pretty much league average last year and from what I can tell there was no indication that he was trending better or worse as the year went on. Basically he was either great or awful which works out to average. I agree that if he performs like he did last year then he has very little value especially given his salary, but I think there’s still hope and he should be given a chance to work out whatever kinks he’s experiencing right now.

                • TWC

                  He was a league average closer?  Or a league average reliever?

                  • AP

                    I would say reliever, but then again there are some pretty crappy closers out there.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Last year his ERA+ was just under 100 and his WAR was below 1. I’m sure other stat heads can chime in about how bad or average he was, but he is not paid to be an average pitcher. If he is going to be average next year he needs to be taken out of the closer role because he when he is below average he is WAY below average.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          If he’s claimed on waivers, the claiming team takes his entire contract (he would almost certainly not be claimed, nor would the Cubs really be all that interested in waiving him right now). If he is released, on the other hand, then the team that signs him would pay only the minimum, with the Cubs footing the bill for the rest of what he’s owed.

          • AP

            Thanks, I knew you would know the answer.

          • MichiganGoat

            That what I thought so basically we’re screwed if he doesn’t discover some control.

            • Bric

              He’s always reminded me of Ramirez in ST- doesn’t seek out the press so there aren’t many noteworthy quotes, appears to be behind most other players in readiness, and doesn’t really appear to be knocking himself out to show he intends to make the all-star team.

              The last couple of years this was the M.O. for most of the team so it wasn’t a big deal except among the rookies. But the message that’s now been sent is that no one’s job is secure. He should talk about it with Ramirez or DeWitt.

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