SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — The long wait is over! Baseball is back, and more specifically, Cubs baseball is back this afternoon.
Not that it’s yet going to be baseball weather in the Valley of the Sun. Temperatures this afternoon might not get out of the 50s. It’s entirely possible it might be warmer in Chicago today than in the Phoenix area.
And, as you can see below, not too many Cubs regulars will be making the trip across town to Maryvale Baseball Park. Plus, I’m guessing two at-bats for those at the top of the lineup will be it, and then some of the other non-roster guys will take over for the remainder of the afternoon. Also, note this:
In case this comes up over the next week: Because games are starting so soon after clubs’ first full-squad workouts this year, Joe Torre said MLB has relaxed its rule about taking a certain number of established big leaguers to Spring Training road games until March 1.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) February 23, 2018
Here’s how the Cubs are approaching these games:
So aside from building depth in case of injury, the games will be used to test situational strategy and to give newcomers such as hitting coach Chili Davis time to see his pupils in action.
“If I say I’m going to try to do this, I don’t really know because I haven’t seen them with runners in scoring position,” Davis said. “I’ll look at the numbers, but I’m going to need to see it happen before I can approach someone.
“The games are going to tell me a whole lot. It’s not going to tell me everything, because this is spring training. But as we go on, they’ll tell me enough hopefully to sit with guys and we can talk and help them become better prepared for when the season starts.”
So, if the Cubs wind up with a losing spring record — and the last time they had a winning one was 2012, when they went 17-16, and you know how that year ended up — don’t sweat it. Wins and losses mean nothing in spring training. Here’s another reminder:
Happy Spring Training, everyone! pic.twitter.com/82vtsZtGsQ— Rich MacLeod (@richmacleod) February 23, 2018
Here are today’s particulars.
Happ CF, Schwarber LF, La Stella 3B, Caratini C, Navarro 1B, Bote 2B, Hannemann RF, Zagunis DH, Freeman SS
As noted here January 29, the Cubs then added Efren Navarro, an outfielder-first baseman, to the non-roster list. He played briefly for the Angels from 2011-15 and for the Tigers last year.
Broxton CF, Yelich LF, Santana RF, Aguilar 1B, Pérez 3B, Piña DH, Sogard 2B, Arcia SS, Bandy C
The Brewers team playing the Cubs today is a split squad, although you’ll note quite a few of their regulars are in this lineup.
Also of note: For the first couple of weeks of the spring, almost all teams will use the DH. Starting pitchers will begin batting as we get closer to Opening Day. You might wind up seeing some games where Cubs pitchers bat and the opponent uses the DH, by mutual agreement.
Michael Roth will start for the Cubs. He’s a non-roster invitee who last played in the majors in 2016 with the Rangers. Other Cubs pitchers on today’s list: Rob Zastryzny, Dario Alvarez, Craig Brooks, Anthony Bass, David Garner and Alberto Baldonado.
Not a list of very familiar names, but that’s to be expected this early in camp.
Brent Suter gets the call for the Brewers. Junior Guerra is also expected to throw for Milwaukee in this game.
Today’s game is on cubs.com with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie. It will be televised on Fox Sports Wisconsin with the Brewers announcers. It’s also on MLB Network on a one-hour delay beginning at 3 p.m. CT.
Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.
Please visit our SB Nation Brewers site Brew Crew Ball. If you do go there to interact with Brewers fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.
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 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. 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.