Cubs vs. Mariners at Peoria Preview, Thursday 3/21, 9:05 CT

USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs' final split-squad game of the year is also their first night game of 2013.

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- This is just a brief recap of the Cubs' 5-4 loss to the Dodgers in Tucson in the daytime half of Thursday's split-squad game. I'll have a longer recap of that game, plus a full recap of the night game vs. the Mariners, early Friday morning. Starlin Castro homered and went 2-for-4; it's nice to see him have (apparently) no ill effects from the hamstring injury that kept him out for 12 days. Brent Lillibridge was 2-for-3 and is now 13-for-27 (.481) this spring. (Small sample size, etc.) Scott Feldman gave up more runs (four in five innings), but the good news is that he didn't walk anyone.

This is the final split-squad game of the spring, and of the Cubs' remaining eight Cactus League games (including tonight), three of them will be night games, I suppose getting them into the regular-season routine. Beginning today, the Cubs play 10 straight days, then have a day off before the regular-season opener in Pittsburgh, have another off day, then play 12 days in a row before their first off-day in Chicago April 15. That's followed by games on 20 straight days, through May 5. So the early-season schedule, usually sprinkled with days off, will be quite heavy this year. May has more off days (four) than April (two). That stretch that ends May 5 includes 17 home games.

Let's hope spring decides to show up in Chicago by the beginning of April.

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus CF, Valbuena 3B, Schierholtz RF, Soriano LF, Navarro C, Baez SS, Nelson 1B, Gonzalez 2B, Samardzija P

Hey, look! Another Javier Baez sighting. He's getting some more playing time due to the split-squad.

Mariners lineup:

Saunders RF, Andino 3B, Ibanez DH, Smoak 1B, Montero C, Bay CF, Wells LF, Ackley 2B, Ryan SS

Tonight, Jeff Samardzija will pitch for the Cubs against Jon Garland, who is a strong candidate to make the Mariners rotation even though he did not pitch at all in 2012. Other Cubs pitchers scheduled tonight: Kyuji Fujikawa, Carlos Marmol, Zach Putnam and James Russell.

MLB.com Gameday

Tonight's Cubs/Mariners game is on WGN radio with Pat and Keith. If you have a MLB.TV subscription, you can watch the Mariners TV broadcast via ROOT Sports.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

For spring-training games, we'll have a first-pitch thread at game time and one overflow thread, 90 minutes after game time (because I know how you all like overflow threads!). For today, that will be 9 p.m. CT and 10:30 p.m. CT. These threads will not post individually onto the front page; instead, you can find links to them in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page. They will also appear in this StoryStream™. The pitcher box and regular-season stats will return on Opening Day.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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