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Cubs vs. Rangers at Surprise preview, Wednesday 3/21, 3:05 CT

The Cubs continue the Cactus League schedule in Surprise.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — It’s been assumed by most of us that the Cubs will go with 12 position players and 13 pitchers (five starters, eight relievers) to begin the season.

This article, though, suggests a seven-reliever bullpen is being considered, and that Peter Bourjos might be the beneficiary and get an Opening Day roster spot:

“Love him -- absolutely love him,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I’ve had a lot of good conversations with him, and I’ve admired his work from a distance for a while. I told him all of that stuff. I spent a lot of time talking with him in this camp about things I’ve noticed. The conversation is easy, he’s a pro. I see him coming out of his shell -- meaning he’s getting more comfortable here. The dialogue is real easy, and I enjoy the way he’s playing.”

But the Cubs have other considerations. They could go with three catchers. What if they favor versatile Ryan Court, who has played infield and the outfield? Shortstop Mike Freeman has had a good camp, too.

”Everybody is making it difficult,” Maddon said. “It’s a combination of skill, guys who have done it before and how they fit in. It’s really important to fit in here now, and they all fit.”

In the end, I suspect that the eighth reliever will be carried, even though the Cubs have three off days in the season’s first three weeks. 40-man roster spots are a consideration, too. Chris Gimenez is likely getting the one spot that’s open now, and if Bourjos, Court, Freeman or a reliever like Anthony Bass or Justin Hancock makes the 25-man roster, any of those players would also need a 40-man spot.

I’m guessing that (for now, anyway) Eddie Butler gets the final 25-man spot.

Also, it appears Kyle Hendricks is feeling okay:


Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Happ CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Contreras C, Schwarber LF, Zobrist 2B, Heyward RF, Baez SS, Darvish P

This is a lineup we might see from time to time during the regular season.

Rangers lineup:

DeShields CF, Gallo 1B, Andrus SS, Mazara RF, Choo DH, Plouffe 3B, Robinson LF, Odor 2B, Centeno C

Yu Darvish starts for the Cubs. It’s the first time he will face his former team, the Rangers. As was the case with Jon Lester on Monday, Darvish will likely pitch into the seventh inning, hopefully finishing it. Only two relievers are on the Cubs list today: Steve Cishek and Carl Edwards Jr.

Matt Moore gets the call for the Rangers. Other pitchers on the Rangers list today: Jesse Chavez, Jose Leclerc, Matt Bush and Keone Kela.

Today’s game is on with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie. TV coverage is being provided by the Rangers network Fox Sports Southwest. The FSSW broadcast will be carried live on MLB Network — no blackouts. Gameday

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.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today.

Please visit our SB Nation Rangers site Lone Star Ball. If you do go there to interact with Rangers 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.

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.