The Cubs kicked off their Cactus League schedule yesterday with a win over the Padres at their spring ballpark. Today, they’ll face the Royals (2-0) at Sloan Park *and* it’ll be televised on Marquee/MLB Network – our first televised Cubs baseball since the playoffs!
Adbert Alzolay will take the second spring start for the Cubs, and here’s the group that’s penciled in behind him for the start of the game:
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
1. Ian Happ, DH
2. Nico Hoerner, 2B
3. Jason Heyward, RF
4. Kris Bryant, 3B
5. Austin Romine, C
6. Nick Martini, LF
7. Patrick Wisdom, 1B
8. Rafael Ortega, CF
9. Ildemaro Vargas, SS
Just as we discussed, it seems David Ross has split up his regulars into two groups of four, with the first group leading off the game yesterday (Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Joc Pederson, and Javy Baez) and the second group going today: Happ – Hoerner – Heyward – Bryant.
I realize Hoerner is in there at second base among the “regulars,” and I don’t actually think that’s a coincidence. I think there may “technically” be a battle for second base between David Bote, Ildemaro Vargas (who’s actually getting his second straight start around the infield), and Hoerner, but I think this is Hoerner’s job to lose at this point. I still think he could benefit from some time at Triple-A, where he has yet to play a single inning, but the Cubs clearly feel differently. We just have to hope that his bat can tick up closer to league average so that his already excellent glove will play up.
Today also marks the first will see of the Cubs new backup catcher, Austin Romine, who is a perfectly solid guy to play behind Willson Contreras this season. Hopefully, Romine can take a similarly large share of innings from Contreras (as Victor Caratini did/could), so that the Cubs starting catcher can stay healthy and productive throughout the year. You know he’d be out there every single day if he could.
We’ll have a Pre-Gamin’ post for you closer to game time, but take note that after Alzolay exits (after 1.0 or 2.0 innings pitched), we’ll see some combination of Gray Fenter, Juan Gamez, Jonathon Holder, Jake Jewell, Brendon Little, Dillon Maples, Duane Underwood, and Dan Winkler. Go Cubs.