Dodging snowflakes as Cubs open at Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH _ We had some rain mixed with snow earlier today at PNC Park, but the tarp was taken off the field shortly after noon local time, and it looks like an on-time start for Cubs and Pirates. Temperatures will be in the low 40s with a gusty wind as Jeff Samardzija takes on A.J. Burnett.
We’ll have at least three stories for the paper tomorrow, and we’ll quickly sum up some morning developments here, including a couple of comments from team president Theo Epstein, who is on hand.
The Cubs placed second baseman Darwin Barney on the 15-day disabled list this morning with a left-knee laceration. Brent Lillibridge starts at second base. The Cubs have added Alberto Gonzalez to the 25-man roster. He went to spring training as a nonroster man. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Cubs designated pitcher Rob Whitenack for assignment. He may end up back in the organization but off the 40-man. He has been attempting a comeback from Tommy John surgery.
As for Barney, he said he felt blessed that his injury wasn’t worse. He said he was watching the Louisville basketball game Sunday night and feeling bad for himself when he saw the gruesome broken leg suffered by Kevin Ware. The Cubs will re-evaluate Barney in a week to see where he is with his progress. He might need more than the 15 days of DL time.
Theo talked on a few topics, including how this year is different for him from last season, his first with the Cubs.
“I feel the organization’s really unified compared to a year ago at this time,” he said. “We were trying to explain what the vision was, to get people to buy in. Now, a year later, with some change in personnel and with some people who are still here who are fully empowered, the entire place is really united behind this vision. We’re only as good as our people and our processes and the work that we put in place. There’s been a lot of growth. There needs to be more growth, and we need to have it manifest on the big-league field, and today is the start of that.”
He also said that he is not out front in the Wrigley Field renovation talks with the city, but that getting a deal done is important for the baseball side.
“I think it’s fundamentally important to get us to the next level as an organization,” Theo said. “We have a baseball plan, and we have a business plan. They’re timed to sync up with one another, and they’re interdependent. If we don’t get our Wrigley renovation done in a timely manner and done the right way, then we can’t accomplish our business objectives. That would certainly get in the way of us ultimately accomplishing our baseball objectives. It’s very important.”
Our friends, the Kane County Cougars open Thursday. Theo said farm director Brandon Hyde will be there for the opener and that other members of the front office will be regular visitors. The Cougars enter their first year as the Cubs’ Class A Midwest League affiliate.
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