SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Maury Brown, who usually writes about the business of baseball, today has a piece at Forbes titled "5 Reasons Why 2016 Is The Year The Chicago Cubs Win The World Series." That's a pleasant headline to read in any case, but I wanted to call your attention to the following part of it:
As part of renovations to Wrigley Field, a state-of-the-art clubhouse will be ready come Opening Day. This is much more than cushy amenities (although they are there, as well). Prior to the renovations, players would have to drop a net in the clubhouse and take swings off a tee if they wanted to prepare for at-bats during games as the batting cage was out beyond right field making it impossible to get to during games. Now, there will be underground batting tunnels so hitters can warm up against live pitching before, during and after games. This upgrade addresses something that has put the Cubs players at a disadvantage for years. "During the game in all the other parks you can get in a cage and take a few swings to get ready," said Marlon Byrd to ESPN in 2013 and played with the Cubs from 2010 through early 2012. "Pinch hitters can’t get loose or see any pitching before they hit here. They can’t see a live arm or work on hitting a certain pitch that a reliever throws. In the cages elsewhere you can hit off of a slider machine and get ready."
Byrd is right. That kind of thing is important to hitters and could make a real difference in the outcome of games. The Cubs' old clubhouse was state-of-the-art when it was built in 1984, but 32 years later, with other teams building new parks with much better facilities, this is a welcome upgrade.
Here are today's particulars.
Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Soler LF, Montero DH, Victorino RF, Federowicz C, Alcantara 2B, Almora CF, Torres SS
Joe Maddon is just mixing it up a little, I suspect. It probably won't be until next week before we see lineups that look anything like "regular season."
Cave CF, Peraza SS, Votto 1B, Phillips 2B, Bruce RF, Schebler DH, De Jesus 3B, Winker LF, Barnhart C
Trevor Cahill gets the start for the Cubs. He'll be followed by (not necessarily in this order): Eric Jokisch, Ryan Williams, Armando Rivero, Drew Rucinski and Jean Machi. I'm interested in seeing Williams, who exhibited excellent control and command in the system last year, split between South Bend and Tennessee.
For the Reds, it's former Royal Brandon Finnegan starting. After that for Cincinnati: A.J. Morris, Keyvius Sampson, Tony Cingrani, Blake Wood, Carlos Contreras and Drew Hayes.
Today's game is on 670 The Score with Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer.
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Please note that during spring training, Gameday doesn't usually go pitch-by-pitch as it does during the regular season -- usually, it will update after each at-bat.
For spring-training games, we'll have a first-pitch thread at five minutes to 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. There will also be a StoryStream on the front page with all the game thread links, as well as the recap after the game is over. The pitcher boxes and regular-season stats will return on Opening Day.
Discuss amongst yourselves.