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It's April! Can Opening Day Be Far Behind? - Cubs vs. Athletics at Phoenix, Wednesday 4/1, 3:05 CT

It may be April, but we still have four more games that don't count, before we get to some that actually do. And while Carlos Zambrano will start today, getting ready for Opening Day in Houston five days from now, there is more news today about other pitchers.

Ted Lilly is supposed to start at Yankee Stadium on Friday. But with rain predicted, he might stay in Arizona instead and work there, so as to not get off schedule. That Gordon Wittenmyer article also says:

The Cubs have identified prospect Mitch Atkins as the potential sixth starter in waiting at Class AAA Iowa, and they're considering adding Atkins to the traveling squad this weekend to get him experience pitching at a loud, packed Yankee Stadium.

So it's possible Atkins might wind up starting the Friday game. Bruce Miles says that David Patton will also pitch in New York:

The Cubs must keep Patton on the big-league roster all year or risk losing him on waivers. [Angel] Guzman is out of minor-league options, and the Cubs will put neither on waivers. [Jeff] Samardzija has options, and he may open the season in Iowa's starting rotation. The Cubs wouldn't mind trading [Chad] Gaudin, who has had a poor spring.

Patton has not pitched above Class A, so the Cubs would like to see him in a big setting like Yankee Stadium. So far, he has shown good mound presence and has not looked afraid.

Sounds like Lou really wants Patton and Guzman on the Opening Day roster. We may not know the final decisions until Sunday.

Shameless promotion: if you haven't yet purchased your copy of the Maple Street Press 2009 Cubs Annual, you can check out one article from the annual online: click here for Len Kasper's article about how he does his job on a daily basis (link opens .pdf). The annual is 128 pages, with articles on last year's team, this year's team, the minor league system, historical reviews of the 1969 and 1989 teams, and some thoughts on the future of Wrigley Field -- and no advertising.

Back to today's game: the A's will send lefty Dallas Braden to the mound against Z. You can hear the game via the Mediacenter; today it will be announcers -- I think we heard these guys during this game on March 3. Gameday

Discuss amongst yourselves.