Today’s game would have been a fantastically fun Spring matchup between Cubs ace Jon Lester and Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, but with Lester scratched due to dead arm, it’s Eric Jokisch stepping in to take on King Felix.
There’s plenty of intrigue in this one, though, as Kris Bryant makes his long-awaited return to the field, starting at third base. Javier Baez slides into the leadoff spot in a classic Spring Training move – no, there’s no reason to believe Baez will be considered for the leadoff job (that one is firmly in Dexter Fowler’s able hands). Instead, I’ve got to believe the move is designed (1) to maximize Baez’s plate appearances in this one, especially against a very good starter, and (2) to serve some kind of instructional/mental purpose. Take off the pressure of trying to clobber pitches? Change the way Baez thinks about at bats? I can’t say for sure, but he’s coming off of one of his ugliest games of the Spring.
Today’s game is not televised, but it is available via WBBM radio or MLB Gameday audio.
The Cubs lineup:
- Javier Baez, 2B
- Dexter Fowler, CF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Jorge Soler, RF
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Starlin Castro, SS Addison Russell (Castro has a groin issue. More on that later.)
- Chris Coghlan, LF
- Welington Castillo, C
- Eric Jokisch, P
Interesting batting order all around. I wouldn’t read much into it, because there’s obviously some instruction/practice going on, but it’s interesting.