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.
Interesting news out of Indiana, where coach Frank Vogel will try resting his players to solve the team's bewildering slump. All five Pacers starters are expected to sit during Wednesday's game at Milwaukee.
Does this mean Indiana is conceding the No. 1 seed in the East to Miami? Actually, no.
The Heat has a tough game on Wednesday at Memphis, while the Pacers could conceivably win without their starters in Milwaukee. It's the Bucks, after all.
Indiana's starters will be back on Friday at Miami. If the Pacers can somehow win that one, they'd win the season series 3-1 over the Heat.
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.
The race to raise money in the north suburban 10th Congressional District is both narrow and active.
Democratic U.S. Rep Brad Schneider of Deerfield says he'll report raising about $550,000 in the first three months of the year, and Republican Bob Dold of Kenilworth says he'll report about $520,000.
That's a lot, yet another hint of foreshadowing to the race that's to come.
Schneider was outspent by Dold in 2012, so the Democrat's camp is happy to see its candidate raising a little more money than Dold this time. The Republican Dold won't have to deal with President Barack Obama at the top of the ticket this time, though.
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.
Joakim Noah dished out 120 assists in the month of March. The Bulls played a ton of games in March (16 in 31 days), but that's still an impressive average of 7.5.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, that is the most assists by a center in a single month since Wilt Chamberlain had 155 in March, 1968. That was the year Wilt decided he'd done enough scoring in his career, so he led the league in assists with 8.6.
Among all players, Noah finished tied for 7th in assists during March. Here's the list:
1. Rajon Rondo, Bos 11.1
2. Chris Paul, LAC 10.3
3. John Wall, Was 9.0
4. Ty Lawson, Den 8.8
5. Ricky Rubio, Min 8.6
6. Kendall Marshall, LAL 7.9
7. Joakim Noah, Bulls 7.5
(tie) Kemba Walker, Cha 7.5