SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Well, this should be fun. The World Baseball Classic is fun and you should watch, and today the Cubs and fans at Sloan Park will be treated to a game against WBC's Team Italy.
Team Italy is in the WBC's Pool D, along with Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. Those four countries will play in Jalisco, Mexico, beginning Thursday. Italy's the underdog in that group, but the Italian team produced some shocking upsets four years ago, including defeating Canada 14-4 by slaughter rule in a game I attended in 2013 at Chase Field in Phoenix. (Anthony Rizzo, pictured above, walked twice and scored two runs in that game for Italy.)
Italy's not likely to defeat the Cubs, but today should be entertaining anyway.
The Cubs will have another game against a WBC team, March 18, when one of the two teams that comes out of Pool E, the second round in Tokyo, will visit Sloan Park.
Here are today's particulars.
Schwarber DH, La Stella 3B, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist 2B, Russell SS, Heyward RF, Montero C, Jimenez LF, Jay CF
John Lackey will start for the Cubs. Other Cubs pitchers scheduled: Rob Zastryzny, Jake Buchanan, Dylan Floro, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon.
Today’s game is on cubs.com with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie. No TV today.
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 Night.
Discuss amongst yourselves.