Before we move on to the particulars of Friday's game, a few words about Manny Ramirez, who made his I-Cubs debut Thursday:
When Cubs president Theo Epstein brought Manny Ramirez aboard to their Triple-A affiliate, he made it clear that the player/coach wasn't going to make it on the Major League roster or steal at-bats from highly touted prospects. But with the Iowa Cubs facing 14 innings of doubleheader baseball on Thursday, Ramirez was surprised to find himself batting sixth and playing left field in Game 2 on the day he joined the team. Playing for his third different Triple-A affiliate in as many years, Ramirez debuted with an 0-for-4, two-strikeout performance in the Iowa Cubs' 7-6 loss to the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.
As noted above, Manny isn't going to be playing for the big-league Cubs. It's been a month since he was signed to help out young players -- he spent much of that time in Mesa at extended spring training. If he can help players not only with hitting, but help them understand ways of avoiding the wrong things he did, Manny's signing will have been a good thing.
I doubt he plays in the big leagues again for anyone. He's 42, and the last time he had even a semblance of a decent year in the majors was five years ago. It's kind of odd to have him around the Cubs organization, but I think Manny is doing this to try to repair his own damaged reputation as well as help others.
Sweeney RF, Ruggiano CF, Rizzo 1B, Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Coghlan LF, Baker C, Barney 2B, Hammel P
Well, they won with Ryan Sweeney leading off last night... and, Junior Lake, probably wisely, gets the day off.
Span CF, Rendon 3B, Werth RF, LaRoche 1B, Zimmerman LF, Ramos C, Desmond SS, Espinosa 2B, Roark P
Today's Starting Pitchers
Scouts will no doubt be plentiful at Wrigley Field today to watch Jason Hammel, who could be entering his final month as a Cub. (Nice knowin' ya, Jason.) Hammel is having by far the best year of his career. Current members of the Nats are hitting .255 (27-for-106) against him with three home runs (Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos and Adam LaRoche).
In eight career starts vs. the Nats, Hammel has never lost (6-0 W/L record) and has walked just nine batters in 54⅓ innings. He threw eight solid innings in his last start against them, May 27, 2013 while with the Orioles.
Tanner Roark made one relief appearance against the Cubs last year, August 21 at Wrigley Field. He gave up two runs, but the guys who drove in those runs aren't on the Cubs anymore. This year, Roark has been very good as a member of the Nats' rotation. He's got a good ERA (2.79) and FIP (3.40) and like his teammate Doug Fister, doesn't walk people (23 in 93⅔ innings).
Roark is from downstate Wilmington and played college baseball at Illinois.
Today's game is on CSN Chicago.
For 2014, we are going to have the same game-thread routine as 2013. Here's how it works.
You'll find the game preview -- like this one -- posting as the first link in the StoryStream™, which will then contain all the overflow threads and the recap. The recap will also be on the front page as a separate post; once I post a game recap, the stream for each game will be retitled "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.
In general, game previews will post two hours before game time. Exception: for day games after night games, that will usually be 90 minutes.
You will also be able to find the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in this StoryStream™. As I've done for each regular-season game for several years now, we'll have the First Pitch thread at five minutes before game time (moved up from actual game time per your requests), then an overflow one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time.
Discuss amongst yourselves.