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Cubs vs. Reds at Mesa Preview, Saturday 3/22, 3:05 CT

The Cubs are expecting another sellout Saturday afternoon.

This play is where Javier Baez hurt himself Friday
This play is where Javier Baez hurt himself Friday

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Our friends at The Cub Reporter brought this important fact up on Twitter this morning:

That, of course, is due to the Diamondbacks' loss to the Dodgers in the season-opening game in Australia. If the D'backs lose again in the second Australia game (which you can watch on MLB Network at 9 p.m. CT), the Cubs' lead in that race will be extended to one full game.

Hey, it's about as close as we're getting to contention this year. Enjoy it while you can.

I beat this horse to death last year, but I'm going to revive it so we can all do that again:

I just have a feeling about Francoeur. Don't know why. He hits righthanded and the Cubs could use more of that. He's 30 -- five years younger than Darnell McDonald, for example -- and despite the release, had a decent spring for Cleveland: .286/.359/.429 (10-for-35, two doubles, a home run, 10 RBI and four walks).

Can't hurt. Sign him to a minor-league deal, stash him at Iowa and see how he does.

Finally, Javier Baez is just fine today and is on the list of reserves for today's game.

Cubs lineup:

Barney 2B, Ruggiano LF, Rizzo 1B, Olt 3B, Schierholtz RF, Castillo C, Sweeney CF, Murphy SS, Jackson P

Starlin Castro will play in a minor-league game today and expects to be ready for Opening Day.

Reds lineup:

Hamilton CF, Negron 3B, Phillips 2B, Ludwick LF, Bernadina RF, Pena C, Cozart SS, Nelson 1B, Cingrani P

Edwin Jackson goes for the Cubs this afternoon.

Tony Cingrani, a Chicago-area native (Lincoln Way Central HS in New Lenox) gets the start for the Reds.

Today's game is on WGN radio with Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer. It will be televised live on WGN-TV with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies, and you can also watch online if you have a MLB.TV subscription. Gameday

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's game, that will be 3 p.m. CT and 4:30 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.