Chicago's Inside Pitch
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.
It will be chilly here at Wrigley Field for the first of this year's scheduled 38 night games. That total is up from the 30 the Cubs had been playing in recent years. They were 12-18 in home night games last season. The Cubs’ Edwin Jackson will take on the Pirates’ Charlie Morton in a rematch of the second game of the season, which the Pirates won 4-3 in 16 innings last week at PNC Park.
We’ve got the Sunday brunch blog back. I do this one before Sunday home games, and we’re able to get into a number of topics at a leisurely pace. So grab another mimosa and have at it.
The Cubs take on the Phillies this afternoon in the series finale. They’ll send swingman Carlos Villanueva against veteran A.J. Burnett. Villanueva relieved in two games at Pittsburgh and got the loss each time out. But he’s also a dying breed as the guy who can start and relieve, even within days of each other. I remember Terry Mulholland in 1998 as being one of the best at that.
One time, Terry told me that he wanted to start every fourth day, not every fifth day, and relieve in between. Old school all the way. Cubs manager Rick Renteria said he appreciates the effort from Villanueva.
The sun has returned to Wrigley Field. It’s cool and the wind is blowing in off the lake, but it’s been a much more tolerable morning and early afternoon here at the ballpark as the Cubs and Jeff Samardzija take on lefty Cliff Lee and the Phillies.
Someone asked Cubs manage Rick Renteria yesterday if he would shake up the lineup because the Cubs aren’t hitting. Actually, Renteria does that every day as he has gone with a different combo for each game. The Cubs have six left-handed hitters, six right-handed hitters and switch hitter Emilio Bonifacio on the roster.
Welcome to Opening Day at Wrigley Field as the Cubs take on Ryne Sandberg’s Phillies. It’s No. 101 in the history of this ballpark and the 99th for the Cubs, who moved in after the Federal League went out of business. The day is cloudy and cool, with the wind howling out. If there’s one consolation it’s that the wind is not coming in off the lake. But gusts could hit 40 mph or more today.
We’ll get to a few of the highlights of the pregame here on the blog, with much more in the paper tomorrow from several of us from the Daily Herald out here at the ballpark.
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts spoke with reporters for a few minutes and said that seeking additional investors to help with the planned ballpark renovations is one option. That news was reported Thursday.
It's about 30 degrees colder today than it was for Monday's White Sox-Twins season opener, but the rain is expected to hold off until later so there will be baseball this afternoon on the South Side.
Some pregame notes:
-With right-hander Kevin Correia on the mound for Minnesota today, left-handed hitting Alejandro De Aza is back in left field for the second straight game and right-handed hitting Dayan Viciedo is back on the bench.
If this is going to be a platoon situation, De Aza is going to get the majority of the starts. Last season, the Sox played 124 games against right-handed starters and just 38 vs. left-handers.
Viciedo is taking his new role in stride, for now.