After a shorter-than-usual offseason (for the best possible reason!), Cubs baseball officially returns Tuesday, which is pitcher-and-catcher reporting date to Mesa, Arizona.
And for those of you who remember previous pitcher-and-catcher report days where I headlined the article “The Five Most Beautiful Words In The English Language” (“Pitchers and catchers report today!”), here’s the image I always put with those posts. Just for old times’ sake.
Many Cubs players have been in camp for the last few days, but the first official pitcher and catcher workout is tomorrow, Wednesday, February 15. I’ll be at the back fields at the Sloan Park complex to watch and will have photos and video.
The full-squad reporting date is Friday, February 17 and the first full-squad workout is Saturday, February 18, just one week before the spring-training schedule begins with split-squad games against the Athletics (at Sloan Park) and Giants (Scottsdale Stadium), the first two of a 38-game spring schedule.
Expect to see lots and lots of minor-league invitees play in those games, and likely the same for the first couple of weeks of camp as Joe Maddon gives his regulars lots of rest, and probably piggybacks his starters (in other words, has two of them go in the same game for two innings each).
Here are some key storylines to watch during camp.
1) Jason Heyward spent the winter working on his swing. Will it bring back his production?
2) Can the Cubs adequately replace Dexter Fowler's offense with the Jon Jay/Albert Almora Jr. combination?
3) Kyle Schwarber's rehab from his knee injury helped him be a World Series hero. Will the knee stand up to the rigors of a full season?
4) Wade Davis is the new Cubs closer. Can he be as lockdown as Aroldis Chapman was?
5) Javier Baez is a defensive wizard. Does he get a regular position or remain a super-sub?
Baseball is back! It’s just 47 days until the Cubs and Cardinals begin the regular season in St. Louis.