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Cubs vs. Padres at Mesa preview, Thursday 3/8, 2:05 CT

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The Cubs return to day baseball Thursday afternoon.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, ArizonaKyle Schwarber hit his first home run of the spring Wednesday, a towering opposite-field shot. But perhaps more important to him this spring is working on his defense:

How much does Kyle Schwarber want to be a better outfielder? On Wednesday, he poked his head into Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s office to ask for an assessment of his defensive skills.

”He wanted to know my evaluation,” Maddon said. “I said, ‘Listen, you haven’t really been challenged.’ I told him what I’ve been watching, and I’ve watched the drills and I said, ‘This is what I’ve been watching with the drills.’ I want him to be aware of a couple things with his feet.

“I talked to him about some technique, but primarily range is about the first step,” Maddon said. “If you’re an average human being, that first step matters a lot. That’s what I was talking to him about.”

I think Kyle is primed to have a big year, both at the bat and in the field. If he can hit the way he did in the second half of 2017 and even be an average left fielder, that’s probably a 4 WAR player, maybe even better.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Happ CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Contreras DH, Zobrist LF, Heyward RF, Russell SS, Baez 2B, Caratini C

Padres lineup:

Margot CF, Asuaje 2B, Myers RF, Hosmer 1B, Headley 3B, Galvis SS, Renfroe LF, Ellis C, Spangenberg DH

Many of the Padres regulars are in today’s lineup. We also get our first look at Eric Hosmer in a San Diego uniform.

Tyler Chatwood will start for the Cubs. Also on the Cubs pitching list for today: Mike Montgomery, Justin Wilson, Justin Grimm, Rob Zastryzny and Kyle Ryan.

Jordan Lyles gets the call for the Padres. Also scheduled for the Padres: Matt Strahm, Buddy Baumann, Colten Brewer and Trey Wingenter. (No, I’ve never heard of any of those guys before except Lyles.)

Today’s game is on cubs.com with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie.

MLB.com 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 MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

Please visit our SB Nation Padres site Gaslamp Ball. If you do go there to interact with Padres 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 7 p.m. CT and 8:30 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.