Cubs vs. Rangers Preview, Wednesday 3/6, 2:05 CT

USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday afternoon, the Cubs will be giving a long look at a relief candidate by giving him a start. Ah, spring training. How I love your ways.

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- As all of you in Chicago dig out from the biggest snowstorm of the season (what a weird winter, an almost-snowless January followed by a big snowfall in March), it's another gorgeous, sunny day in the Phoenix area with temperatures headed to near 80.

A few notes from baseball today:

  • Anthony Rizzo smacked a home run for Team Italy in an exhibition game against the Athletics at Phoenix Muni Tuesday night. It reportedly hit the scoreboard in deep right-center field; I've been to Phoenix Muni many times and have never seen a ball hit that board before.
  • Jeff Passan of Yahoo, who has been beating the drum for replay review as much as I have, sums up exactly how and why replay is a necessity:

    First, and most important, is accepting the impetus behind replay. Get. The. Call. Right. Do everything you humanly can to get it right. Even without perfect technology – some calls will be inconclusive and others, yes, still blown despite video – its presence allows us to correct enough errors to make it worthwhile. Torre and his ilk must get past romanticizing the "human element" – the idea that because people are fallible, their screw-ups are somehow acceptable – and recognize that all of the systems, from super-slo-mo video to camera and radar ball-tracking systems, are eminently human: designed by us and tweaked by us with purpose.
    
    "It's to get the thing right," Torre said, and he was on the right track until he fell back into the usual trap. "But again, do we want to get every single thing right?"
    
    Yes. Yes! Yes, yes, yes!!!

    I couldn't agree more.

  • It doesn't look like Ian Stewart's going to make the team:

    “I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a big question, because there just aren’t that many at-bats (once he returns)” manager Dale Sveum said. “You have to be very productive in those at-bats. (Luis) Valbuena has been playing and doing a really good job.”
    
    Valbuena is hitting .417 this spring, playing all around the infield. If Stewart is cut before opening day, the Cubs save $1.5 million on his $2 million salary.

    Is there someone available by trade? Could Junior Lake step up? Lake probably doesn't have enough minor-league experience to be a starting big-league 3B now. But I'd rather see the Cubs go after someone than have Luis Valbuena play there every day again (and I do think Valbuena is a valuable bench player).

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus CF, Barney 2B, Hairston RF, McDonald LF, Sappelt DH, Navarro C, Baez SS, Lake 3B, Clevenger 1B

Rangers lineup:

Kinsler 2B, Gentry CF, Berkman DH, Beltre 3B, Murphy LF, Pierzynski C, Moreland 1B, Olt RF, Profar SS

This afternoon, the Cubs will send lefthanded reliever Hisanori Takahashi to the mound to start. Takahashi has thrown four decent innings in three relief appearances so far and, because the Cubs have only James Russell as a bullpen lefty, Takahashi does have a chance to make the 25-man roster. He'll go against the Rangers' Robbie Ross.

MLB.com Gameday

Today's game at Mesa is a webcast on cubs.com (and via the MLB At Bat app) with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie. The webcast will be online starting approximately 1:50 p.m. CT.

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 2 p.m. CT and 3:30 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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