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cubs park springHooray! Slightly more “real” fake baseball than yesterday’s intrasquad game!

Today, the Chicago Cubs open the doors on Cubs Park in Mesa, Arizona, and kick off their 2014 Cactus League schedule by welcoming the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jeff Samardzija gets the start for the Cubs, and new signee Bronson Arroyo will start for the Diamondbacks. Yes, it’s the hair versus hair matchup you thought we’d lost when Arroyo left the Reds.

Wesley Wright, Alberto Cabrera, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop, Blake Parker, Hector Rondon and Jose Veras are among the relievers who are expected to see action today. It’s interesting that, so far, Cabrera is very much being treated as a reliever, despite his success last year at AA upon being converted back into a starter. Perhaps, because he’s out of options, the Cubs are acknowledging that, if he’s going to make the team, it’s going to be in the pen.

Today’s game is on WGN-TV, or you can listen to the audio on Cubs.com.

The lineup:

  1. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B
  2. Luis Valbuena, 3B
  3. Starlin Castro, SS
  4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  5. Junior Lake, CF
  6. Welington Castillo, C
  7. Justin Ruggiano, LF
  8. Mike Olt, DH
  9. Darnell McDonald, RF

Some interesting bits in there. Junior Lake starts in center field, which is somewhat meaningful, given that Justin Ruggiano instead takes left (and Ruggiano is someone who can play center). If the Cubs weren’t thinking about Lake as a possible center fielder, and wanted him to lock down left field, that’s where he’d be playing from day one. I am happy about this development.

Emilio Bonifacio is in at second and in the leadoff spot. Mike Olt gets a start, and it will be *very* interesting to see him at the plate. He doesn’t start at third, reportedly because of some shoulder soreness. He tells Carrie Muskat that it happens every year, so it’s not necessarily a concern.

Welington Castillo is behind the plate, which is a good sign that he’s definitely over any lingering effects from his late-season (minor) knee surgery last year.

  • http://www.w2wn.net Cerambam

    Wait wait wait wait whaaaaaaat?!?! the game is on WGN? I thought we were upset because the first game to be aired wasn’t till deeper into the spring, meaning we likely wouldn’t see some of the younger guys? I cannot wait.

    • CubChymyst

      I went home early specifically to watch the game.

      • farmerjon

        Scheduled my apt at the accountants office @1 for precisely this reason …I am enjoying a Bent River Uncommon Stout with a philly cheese steak pizza on the way ; ) …go cubs, life is good : )

  • candyland07

    Junior Lake starts in center field- good cant hurt to gain experience

  • Javier Bryant

    Castro in the 3 hole has been kind of peculiar. Looking forward to seeing Mike Olt!

    • Blackhawks1963

      Castro in the 3 hole of of sheer necessity. The options to mix and match 1 thru 8 are ugly this season. Nothing is going to be an ideal combo.

      • Noah_I

        Also, the 3 hole is an overrated spot in the lineup, and all the statistical analysis shows your 3rd hitter is essentially tied for the 5th most important spot in the lineup. Ideally, you want your best all around hitter batting second, and, presuming they aren’t the same person, a high OBP hitter batting first, and a high slugging hitter batting 4th. The first hitter will get the most plate appearances, but the fewest with runners on base. The 4th hitter will see the most plate appearances with runners on base, but have about 60-80 plate appearances less than your leadoff hitter. Then 3rd and 5th hitters are about equally valuable, although i’d say you probably want to skew more towards OBP with the third hitter and more towards power with the 5th hitter.

  • waittilthisyear

    here’s to a strong spring from Olt, some positive regression for riz and castro, a breakout year from shark, and a pleasant surprise from Junior. no illusions of realistically competing this year, but if those things happen, next year could be fun to watch

  • http://BN Sacko

    Is there any need to look at McDonald at all when there are so many to look at?

    • itzscott

      Early look = early cut in his case to be able to get looks at others who could be more meaningful against better talent when it matters more.

      • Fishin Phil

        I hope you are right, I was really disappointed to even see him in camp.

    • Blackhawks1963

      The only “certainties” in the outfield seem to be Schierholtz, Sweeney and Ruggiano.

      I think it is a case where Lake, McDonald, Coughlan and maybe Kalish are competing for 2 open spots. You’d have to think Lake gets one of them.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Samardzija walked Prado on four straight high fastballs. Meh. Overthrowing is pretty common early.

    • Darth Ivy

      he’s a bust. Trade him, the plan isn’t working, profiteering, get your pitchforks, etc

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        WE CAN’T TRADE HIM! HE HAS NO VALUE NOW!

        • Darth Ivy

          wait for it…..wait for it…..NOW trade him quickly before the next inning!

      • mjhurdle

        What was Renteria even thinking throwing him out there to start that inning!?!?!!!!11!!! He was clearly gassed!! Shoulda gone to the bullpen!!1!

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          FIRE RENTERIA!!!!

        • Darth Ivy

          Renteria should’ve pulled you after your 6th examation mark. Your shift key is still a little tight

          • mjhurdle

            meh, im on a cost-effective contract. i’ll be here for the long haul.
            Besides, everyone knows my value lies in my defensive skills, not my offensive use of the exclamation mark. :)

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              Cost-effective contract?!?!?! You, sir, are guarranteed a starting role.

          • Darth Ivy

            exclamation. oh, the ironing

      • Funn Dave

        So…not sure if you guys have terrible memories or what…but pretending to overreact to everything (especially in the preseason) to poke fun at the people who really do overreact to everything is probably just one of the oldest, lamest jokes on the sports-related internet….Just sayin’….Time to come up with some new jokes that truly are funn….

        • Funn Dave

          Although, had I finished reading the thread, it actually turned out to be pretty damn funny and inventive….

          • Darth Ivy

            that was pure accident

        • Darth Ivy

          My bad. My bad

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          YOU’RE NOT A REAL CUBS FAN!!!!! GO BE A WHITE SUX/ST. LOSER/COMMIEREDS FAN!!!!!!!!!

        • Jon

          This^ the fraternity like grab-assing is kinda lame.

          • Darth Ivy

            You don’t like grab ass? Are you gay?

            • jp3

              Even if you’re gay you could still like playing grab ass

              • Darth Ivy

                my priest told me that’s not true

              • mjhurdle

                great, now i’m going to have to watch A Night at the Roxbury tonight

  • Forlines

    Eric Chavez is still playing Baseball???

  • cubmig

    A rusty start by Shark, but a polished finish.

  • MightyBear

    Shark definitely missing his spots. Looks uncomfortable on mound. Got out of it though.

  • cubmig

    Bonifacio……..a 3-bagger. Has Barney lost his job already?

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      Yup, the paperwork is being drawn up for Barney’s release.

  • http://www.draftday.com udbrky

    Nice Start EB!

  • miggy80

    I’m trying to listen on MLB.com but can’t get any audio. Anybody else having this problem?

    • MightyBear

      No but I’m watching the video on MLB.com

  • itzscott

    If Ed Lynch is there to evaluate Shark for a Toronto trade, we’re in good hands….. Lynch totally sucked as a Cub GM and was routinely taken advantage of by every other GM.

  • Funn Dave

    Is anyone else getting the message that Gameday is unavailable for this game? I tell you what, if they blocked it at work, I will literally get a new job.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Have you re-subscribed?

      • D-Rock

        I am listening on AtBat app. Best app out there & well worth the $20

        • Edwin

          My only wish is that they’d include radio archive feeds as well.

        • miggy80

          Does $20 get you cubs games or all of MLB?

          • DocPeterWimsey

            All of MLB! When the Cubs play day games, I get to listen to the Cubs in the day and the Sox at night. I like contrast in my baseball listening.

            • miggy80

              Sweet! This could really come in hand when traveling this summer.

      • Funn Dave

        Re-subscribed? Isn’t Gameday free?

    • mjhurdle

      if you are talking about MLB.com, i am on the gameday now and it is working for me.

      • miggy80

        I’m having the same problem with watching and can’t get audio.

  • Forlines

    It’s working here Dave

    • Funn Dave

      NOOOO! Stupid departement of transportation! I kid you not: I went to a career fair the other day, just to see what’s out there, and with gameday not working I am now officially 100% on the job hunt.

      • D-Rock

        If you have wifi, just listen on your phone app. Sucks they make you buy both, but the phone app is well worth the $. If you don’t want to buy both, just buy the phone version.

      • Jon

        Good to see tax dollars at work.

        • Funn Dave

          Good to see some people expect far more from government employees than from anyone else.

  • Darth Ivy

    is it me or do their hats look lighter than usual?

  • psu415

    So glad baseball is back. My life has been way too productive since fantasy football ended. Go CUBS!

  • MightyBear

    Man I don’t care if they lose 120 games and all their ST games, I am so happy Cubs baseball is back. I don’t know why but it seems like forever since the last game.

  • Medicos

    Had my office manager schedule all my patients’ appointments for Thursday morning and now I have the entire medical office to myself to watch the Cubs 1st game. Looks as if Bonifacio could win the 2nd base competition if he continues to hit like he did in the 1st inning.

    • psu415

      He’s batting 1.000 and he turned a DP! Why is this even a question anymore?

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        I heard he is a favorite for MVP.

  • D-Rock

    Sounds like Bonifacio could have had an inside the parker but they held him. Dude has some serious wheels!

    • psu415

      I like the idea of having that kind of speed on the team. I know it doesn’t show up in the major statistics (except steals), but for me that gives him a slight edge over Barney. That and I’m sick of Barney at the plate. At least speed is exciting (Campana!).

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        I do to think this board can survive another “but but but he is really fast” discussion. Campana was exhausting enough.

        • jp3

          He is Tony Campana fast…. It looks like he carries a real bat to the batters box and not a toothpick that campy always swung… Man that guy made Barney look like Ruth.

        • Fishin Phil

          If you can combine speed with Belly Fire, you have a recipe fro MVP.

          ;)

        • psu415

          Maybe if the rest of the team weren’t so slow…how many bases did we steal last year?

          • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

            WHO CARES? Seriously of all the stats to worry about stolen bases are one of the more worthless stats to worry about.

  • Edwin

    Grimm Reaper makes an appearance.

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      Samardzija pulled early??!?!!???! Renteria has no clue how to manage a bullpen.

      • Darth Ivy

        I’m not saying I disagree, just that he’s actually the best coach in the league and you’re totally wrong.

        (You can definitely tell that this game is having an effect on many of us)

  • Corey C

    I think the mangers should get a red baseball.

    When they wanna challenge, they throw the ball onto the field, preferably hitting the umpire, I mean, onto the field.

  • Edwin

    Is anyone watching the WGN TV feed? How is the camera angle looking for home plate? Does it look more like a normal game, or can you tell it’s more of a spring training type broadcast?

    • Darth Ivy

      seems normal. but I’m sure we’d notice a difference if they did a split screen

      • Edwin

        That’s good. As long as it’s not one of those low and way off to the side views.

    • Corey C

      Definetly a spring training game. It’s higher than regular season. More of a balcony look than a stage pit look.

      • Edwin

        Thanks. I actually prefer a higher CF view than lower.

  • ChrisFChi

    Feels good to see the Cubs on tv. Definitely a nice treat to come home from work to. Thanks everyone for the updates on the first two innings

  • psu415

    Okay– that last hit by EB looked eerily like a Campana move.

    • psu415

      and by hit I mean ground out

  • http://www.draftday.com udbrky

    Starlin looks so much more relaxed at the plate. I like and missed this Starlin!

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      He just doubled in a run. He is two for two. He’s off to a good start.

  • Darth Ivy

    Castro needs to take it easy with the beads

  • Corey C

    SMALL SAMPLE SIZE BE DAMNED.

    CASTRO IS BACK.

  • jp3

    Boy I had heart palpitations hearing them saying Castro tripped… That could be brutal watching a Barney/Bonafacio combo batting every day

  • cubmig

    Can’t help but wonder if Strop’s odd wrist/hand action has anything to do with his control? He has this last minute “snap” just before letting go of the ball.

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