Just a quick reminder to turn your clocks ahead tonight before you go to bed, so that they'll be right when you wake up on Sunday... the official changeover time will be at 2 am. For Cubs fans, this means that most spring games from Arizona will, starting tomorrow, not today, begin at 3:05 Chicago time instead of 2:05.
For today, Z takes the mound at 2:05 CT, televised nationally on WGN (and on WTMJ radio from Milwaukee, if you care to hear a bit of Bob Uecker), against Milwaukee's Jeff Suppan. Also on TV today: the USA vs. Canada in the first "Pool C" game, at 1 pm CT, on ESPN, and Italy vs. Venezuela at 7 pm CT, on the MLB Network. Japan beat Korea early this morning 14-2, in a game that was ended after seven innings due to the "mercy rule", and so Japan advances to round two.
Rich Harden threw a simulated game yesterday (no towels, as far as I can tell), and is on target to start his first Cactus League game on Tuesday against the Mariners. Gordon Wittenmyer has some more details on how the Cubs are handling Harden, with which I agree:
But the tear in the lower backside of his shoulder that he suffered lunging for a high bouncer two years ago is still there. And it's impossible to say when -- "if" isn't an option -- it ultimately will flare up again, even with all the strengthening work he's done since last season and how "electric" he looks this spring.
So why not just delay his season debut and try to make his shoulder feel in the fall like it's still summer?
Because that doesn't work, say the Cubs.
"When you try to prevent somebody from having an injury, that's when they get hurt," Piniella said. "If it's going to happen, it's going to happen -- unless you're taking chances by letting them go too long for four or five starts in a row. We don't do that here with our pitching, so it's not going to happen that way.
"But if you're too careful, if it's not your shoulder, it's going to be your groin. If it's not your groin, it's going to be your knee. Or your back. Something is going to happen."
This is no surprise to me, and it shouldn't be to you, either: the Cubs' sale is likely not going to be finished by Opening Day. In fact, given current economic conditions, I'd be surprised if it were completed by the end of the 2009 season.
Discuss amongst yourselves.