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Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians Preview, Thursday 3/10, 2:05 CT: Honoring Ron Santo

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Former Chicago Cub third baseman Ron Santo speaks to the fans during the retirement ceremony for Santo's uniform number 10  at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Former Chicago Cub third baseman Ron Santo speaks to the fans during the retirement ceremony for Santo's uniform number 10 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- There will be many ceremonies and events honoring the late Ron Santo this season. The first of those will take place before today's game in Mesa between the Cubs and Indians. At 1:45 central time there will also be a tribute to Ron on the cubs.com online broadcast, so tune in early.

It will be interesting to see if this draws any larger crowd than has been at HoHoKam Park the last few days. On a gorgeous day in the Valley yesterday, the Royals/Cubs game drew only 5,529, the second-smallest crowd this spring. That makes the Cubs' average home attendance 7,139 for seven dates. There are nine home dates remaining (ten if you include the charity intrasquad game on March 30 -- I don't think the attendance nor the result of that game are included in Cactus League numbers). The Cubs are headed for their lowest average (and likely, total) spring training attendance since 2003.

Other attendance figures from Wednesday: Giants/White Sox at Scottsdale, 7,887; Reds/Padres at Peoria, 2,278; Athletics/Rangers at Surprise, 4,066; Padres/Indians at Goodyear, 1,937 (yes, under 2,000); Mariners/Dodgers at Glendale, 4,309; Rockies/Angels at Tempe, 4,038; and Brewers/Diamondbacks at Talking Stick, 9,704.

It appears that virtually everyone in the Cactus League is down in attendance, in some cases way down -- I haven't seen a crowd under 2,000 in years -- except for the defending World Series champion Giants, and the Diamondbacks, who have a shiny new ballpark and are the local team. We'll see if this starts improving over the weekend, but even so, after about 1/3 of the spring season gone, this isn't just me posting numbers every day; it's definitely a story. The weather has been excellent this week, unlike a similar week last year when there were multiple rainouts and a couple of coolish days.

Randy Wells goes for the Cubs today; Andrew Cashner, Kerry Wood, Scott Maine and Thomas Diamond will follow. Tyler Colvin gets another start at 1B. The Cubs will be facing the Indians' Justin Masterson. Full lineups after the jump.

Cubs lineup:

Fukudome RF Johnson CF Colvin 1B Ramirez 3B Montanez LF DeWitt 2B Barney SS Hill C Wells P

Indians lineup:

Brantley CF Nix 2B Santana C Hafner DH LaPorta 1B Buck RF Duncan LF Valbuena SS Donald 3B

Here's all the media information for today.

MLB.com Gameday for today's game

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today. Today's game is on MLB.com with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie.

Please visit our SB Nation Indians site Let's Go Tribe.

There will be an overflow thread posting at 3:30 p.m. CST. As usual, the overflow thread will NOT post on the front page but will be in the "Recent Stories In Game Threads" box on the right sidebar. If you need an extra overflow thread beyond that one, post it in the FanShot section.

Discuss amongst yourselves.