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Cubs vs. White Sox and Cubs vs. Japan Previews, Friday 3/15

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Friday, the Cubs play one team whose regular season home is eight miles from Wrigley, and another whose regular-season home is almost 9,000 miles from Wrigley. (You have to sail part of the way there.)

USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- It's split-squad weekend! The Cubs play two games each of the next three days, including the annual trek to Las Vegas over the weekend. The Cubs have five split-squad dates this spring, tied with the Dodgers for the most of any team. Here's how many the rest of the clubs in the Cactus League have:

Dodgers: 5
Reds: 4
Diamondbacks, Royals, Padres, Rangers: 3
Angels, Brewers, Athletics, Giants, Mariners: 2
White Sox, Indians, Rockies: 1

There doesn't seem to be any rhyme nor reason why some teams have more than others, and it isn't particularly meaningful except to note that Cubs players this weekend will be getting plenty of innings and at-bats in front of what is likely to be the next roster-cut day, probably the off-day next Wednesday. Just thought it was interesting.

IMPORTANT NOTE! The game in Glendale vs. the White Sox begins at 2:05 p.m. CT; the game in Mesa vs. Japan begins at 3:05 p.m. CT.

Other news Friday:

  • As noted in Tim's fanshot, Starling Peralta, who was taken in the Rule 5 draft by the Diamondbacks, has been returned to the Cubs. For now, he's assigned to the Iowa roster, but he's likely going to be at Daytona this year.
  • More complaints from Wrigleyville neighbors about the "pace" of renovation talks. My take: get used to it, because there's likely going to be a deal signed in the next couple of weeks. For lack of a better term: "it's gonna happen."
  • The Cubs' bullpen is coming into focus -- among others, looks like Michael Bowden has made the team.

Cubs lineup vs. Japan:

DeJesus CF, Baez SS, Castillo C, Soriano DH, Sappelt LF, Vitters 3B, Soler RF, Vogelbach 1B, Gonzalez 2B

Excellent. I'll get a chance to see Dan Vogelbach at first base and see how he handles the position. Also, this is the first game back for Josh Vitters.

I have not yet been able to find a lineup for the Japan team; will try to tweet that lineup when I get to Mesa. Not that you'd likely recognize any of the names in that lineup other than Kazuo Matsui, the only player on the Japan roster with any MLB experience.

Onward:

Cubs lineup vs. White Sox:

Valbuena 3B, Barney 2B, Castro SS, Schierholtz RF, Hairston DH, Navarro C, Bogusevic LF, McDonald CF, Nelson 1B 

White Sox lineup:

Wise RF, Ramirez SS, Dunn 1B, Konerko DH, Viciedo LF, Morel 3B, Danks CF, Flowers C, Beckham 2B

This afternoon, Travis Wood takes the mound in Mesa for the Cubs against Japan, while Scott Feldman will throw in Glendale against the White Sox' Gavin Floyd. Japan's starter is Tetsuya Ustumi, not that you know anything about him. In Glendale, Frank Batista, Trey McNutt, Zach Rosscup and Hector Rondon are on the pitcher list; in Mesa, it'll be Casey Coleman, Jensen Lewis, Cory Wade and Rafael Dolis -- surprisingly, neither of the Cubs' Japanese pitchers are on the list to pitch against their countrymen.

MLB.com Gameday for Cubs/White Sox

MLB.com Gameday for Cubs/Japan

Today's game at Glendale will be a webcast on cubs.com with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie. The webcast should be online and on the MLB At Bat app around 1:50 p.m. CDT. It's also available on WSCR and WGN-TV with the Sox announcers. The game in Mesa will not have any audio or video coverage; I'll try to tweet updates if possible.

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. Even though there's an hour between game times, you should still have enough room in the threads for both games. 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.