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Cubs vs. Indians Preview, Monday 3/4, 2:05 CT

We're already entering the third week of spring games. This year features the most exhibition games ever played by the Cubs (39). And what's wrong with that?

USA Today Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- The sun is shining. The temperature is headed to the mid 70s this afternoon. Always exciting to head to the ballpark for the first time any season. Even though the chances of this being any sort of memorable year for our favorite team are very small, the feeling of renewal on seeing baseball for the first time in any calendar year is always worthwhile.

Also worthwhile: I'll get a chance to see Jorge Soler in person today.

Meanwhile, Anthony Rizzo is off to play for Italy:

Rizzo's last game with the Cubs was Sunday. He will practice with the Italian team Monday, and play two exhibition games Tuesday and Wednesday before first-round action Thursday against Team Mexico at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

"I'm going to be competing on an international level, which is going to be cool," Rizzo said. "From what I've heard, the Italian team is pretty good. Hopefully we can shock some people and play good baseball."

Rizzo talked to Cubs manager Dale Sveum before agreeing to play in the World Baseball Classic.

"Obviously, [Sveum] wants me in camp, and I want to be in camp, we want to build as a team," Rizzo said. "For the short time I'll be gone, I don't think it'll be much of a distraction at all."

Italy will play Canada Friday at 12:30 AZT at Talking Stick. I'll be at that game and will report on it Friday afternoon or evening here.

Cubs lineup:

Valbuena SS, McDonald CF, Hairston RF, Soriano LF, Clevenger C, Lake 3B, Nelson 1B, Soler DH, Watkins 2B

Indians lineup:

Stubbs CF, Kipnis 2B, Chisenhall 3B, Swisher DH, Reynolds 1B, Carson RF, Hermida LF, Santos C, Lindor SS

This afternoon, Alberto Cabrera, who is being stretched out to start (presumably in the Iowa rotation) will face the Indians' Carlos Carrasco. Gameday

Today's game at Mesa is a webcast on (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 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.