Chicago's Inside Pitch
We’re now at 100-Eve at Wrigley Field. Tomorrow, the Cubs will celebrate the 100th birthday of the old ballpark. Theo Epstein was on the field this evening (and it’s really cold here), and he was asked about 100 years and no world championships being celebrated here by the Cubs.
“I don’t think I really need that kind of reminder,” he said. “That’s not what I’m thinking about when I think about tomorrow. When it comes to the 100th anniversary, for me, I think of just Wrigley as the epicenter of fans’ connection to the Cubs represents something so important to this franchise and the fans that not only connects the fans to the team but also generations of fans to one another, fathers to sons, grandfathers to grandsons, mothers to daughters, mothers to sons.
Happy Easter to all as we present another Sunday brunch blog. For those in the Chicago area, I can recommend some evening TV after you finish your Easter dinner. WGN-TV in Chicago will present “Wrigley 100: A Century Celebration” tonight at 7 Chicago time. WGN America will air the program on April 26, also at 7 Central.
WGN’s Bob Vorwald was kind enough to give me an advance copy, and I can tell you that some of the film and video highlights from over the years will stir memories. Full disclosure: I was interviewed for the program and appear in a few spots as does my Daily Herald colleague Barry Rozner, who was our beat writer from 1990-97. Despite our appearances, it’s still a great show!
A few clouds have moved in over Wrigley Field on this cool Saturday, but it was all sunshine in the Cubs dugout this morning as manager Rick Renteria was back to his old positive self.
“Today’s a new day, a beautiful day, actually,” Renteria said, one day after having to address his team following a sloppy 4-1 loss to the Reds. For whatever reason Friday, Renteria didn’t even want to acknowledge that he had a team meeting. He only alluded to being upset with some poor play. He expanded on that a bit this morning.
It’s back at Wrigley Field, where the wind is blowing in hard and cold from the north. That should benefit the starting pitchers today, the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija and the Reds’ Alfredo Simon. We talked in Friday’s paper about the Cubs and Reds having trouble getting on base in certain situations. The Cubs enter today ranked 14th in on-base percentage, 15th in slugging, 13th in walks and 14th in runs scored. With runners in scoring position, the Cubs are batting .195 (22-for-113).
They’re coming off a 1-4 road trip, including being shut out in both games of a day-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
Through the first weeks of the season, Paul Konerko has kept a very low profile.
That’s understandable, considering the White Sox only faced two left-handed starting pitchers through their first 15 games. Konerko started only one of those games, but he’s in the lineup tonight vs. Boston lefty Jon Lester.
Konerko is actually starting at first base in place of the slumping Jose Abreu, who has 1 hit in his last 20 at-bats.
The Sox’ captain seemed to talk before just about every game when he was a regular player, and he held court again on Thursday.
Here are some highlights:
On the difficultly of going from full-time to part-time play:
It's cold, 37 degrees about an hour from first pitch, but there's no rain (or snow), so the White Sox and Red Sox are going to play ball tonight at U.S. Cellular Field.
Lot of stuff happening:
-It's Jackie Robinson Day, marking the 67th anniversary of the former Brooklyn Dodgers great breaking baseball's color barrier. Players on both teams will wear Robinson's No. 42 tonight.
-Two familiar faces are in Boston's clubhouse.
Former White Sox starter Jake Peavy gets the start for the Red Sox tonight, and popular catcher A.J. Pierzynski will be behind the plate for Boston.
Some quick notes before the White Sox try for their third straight win over the Indians:
-This is a big start for Felipe Paulino, who is running out of time.
Yes, he is coming back from Tommy John surgery, and Paulino understandably has some rust after being away from the majors for almost two years.
But the 30-year-old right-hander has to start throwing strikes, and making it through 6 innings would also be nice.
In his first two starts, Paulino has worked a combined 9.2 innings and thrown 208 pitches.
"I'd like to see him in better hitters counts," manager Robin Ventura said. "I think he falls behind and starts picking. Early on you're just going to have to throw strikes and hopefully get through a little quicker than he's been in the past."
A few hours after the White Sox announced right fielder Avisail Garcia is out for the season with a torn labrum in his left shoulder, general manager Rick Hahn didn't mince words when he met the media at U.S. Cellular Field.
"Obviously, it's lousy," Hahn said. "It stings for the kid, who is crushed right now, who is very disappointed. He was hoping this was going to be a temporary thing but obviously understands the medical situation and the realities in front of us and what they are. He's taking it very hard.
"It stinks for White Sox fans who are going to be deprived of the opportunity of seeing this kid on a daily basis this year. It's really just one of the crueler realties of sports and the business we're in."
The good news?
The Cubs finish the homestand this afternoon as Travis Wood takes on Gerrit Cole and the Pirates at Wrigley Field. After today, the Cubs head to St. Louis for three and then on to the Bronx for two against the Yankees next Tuesday and Wednesday.
Fans who have been clamoring for manager Rick Renteria to play Mike Olt and Junior Lake more get their wish this afternoon. Both are in the starting lineup against the right-hander.
The wind is blowing out during batting practice at Wrigley Field, and so far, it looks to be a comfortable evening for Game 2 of the Cubs and Pirates. Jason Hammel pitches for the Cubs against lefty Wandy Rodriguez. Cubs manager Rick Renteria will go with a right-handed hitting lineup against Rodriguez.
One change from the last couple of games is moving Starlin Castro up from the sixth spot to the second spot. Emilio Bonifacio remains the leadoff hitter. He is 17-for-33 (.515) on the season and has a hitting line of .515/.556/.576.