Happy Opening Day; early notes from Wrigley

Happy Opening Day; early notes from Wrigley

Posted by Bruce on Fri, 04/04/2014 - 13:19

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.

“Anytime you’re looking at financing a big project like this, you’re going to look at all your different sources of potential financing,” Ricketts said. “We’re going to take a look at whether it makes sense to bring in outside investors.

“Most teams are owned by dozens of investors. It’s unusual for anyone to own 95 percent of the team. We’re going to look at whether or not that fits for us. But it is non-controlling minority shares.”

Ricketts said the Cubs hope to get moving on some parts of the renovations this season, but the full-scale project will not move forward until disputes with the neighboring rooftop owners are resolved.

On the field, the Cubs are 1-2, having played three 1-run games. Get used to that. You’ll see a lot of it this season. Emilio Bonifacio is in the lineup leading off and playing center field. Bonifacio was the go-to guy in the clubhouse after he collected 11 hits during the three games at Pittsburgh. Elias Sports Bureau reports that Bonifacio is the first player in the modern era (since 1900) to pile up 11 hits in his first three games with a team.

Manager Rick Renteria said the Cubs are still discussing whether to start Carlos Villanueva in Sunday’s finale against the Phillies. Villanueva pitched twice in relief in Pittsburgh, and he suffered the defeat in each of the extra-inning losses.

General manager Jed Hoyer ventured onto the field and said that minor-league outfielder Jorge Soler will have an MRI today on his hamstring, which he injured in last night’s game for Class AA Tennessee. We’ve got the minor-league report below.

MINOR-LEAGUE REPORT

Josh Vitters and Kris Byrant, two first-round draft picks by the Cubs, got off to good starts in their minor-league teams’ debuts Thursday. Vitters, the top pick from 2007 who is getting one last shot,. Went 2-for-4 with a homer in Class AAA Iowa’s 10-2 loss to Memphis. Vitters, a onetime third baseman, played left field. Current Iowa third baseman Christian Villanueva had 2 hits, including a double and a run scored. Starting pitcher Chris Rusin worked 3.2 innings, giving up 6 hits and 5 runs. He walked four and struck out two.

Bryant hit a 2-run homer in his first at-bat (off rehabbing big-leaguer Mat Latos) for Class AA Tennessee in the Smokies’ 6-5 loss to Pensacola. Bryan, last year’s top pick, was 1-for-3 with 2 runs and a steal. Zeke DeVoss was 2-for-5 with a triple and 1 RBI from the leadoff spot. Rubi Silva and Jorge Soler doubled. Soler left the game after his double because of hamstring tightness. Starting pitcher Dae-Eun Rhee worked 4 innings, giving up 2 hits and 3 runs, 2 earned. He walked four and struck out four in getting no decision.

Class A Daytona lost 1-0 to Brevard County. Gioskar Amaya was 2-for-2 with a stolen base. Dan Vogelbach and Jeimer Candelario each was 1-for-3 with a walk. Starting pitcher Felix Pena worked 6 innings, giving up 3 hits and 1 run. He walked one and struck out three in taking the loss.

“Our pitchers pitched their butts off,” Vogelbach told Brian Linder of the Daytona Beach News-Journal. “And our defense played great. We are not worried about the bats. That is going to come along, and we will be fine.”

The Kane County Cougars beat Quad Cities 8-4 on the road. Paul Blackburn worked 4 innings, giving up 9 hits and 4 runs. He walked none and struck out three. Yasiel Balaguert was 4-for-5 with 3 doubles and 2 RBI. Carlos Penalver went 3-for-3 with a walk, a run, an RBI and 2 steals. Jake Hannemann led off and went 2-for-5 with 2 runs.

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