Last spring, manager David Ross anointed Kris Bryant as his leadoff hitter. KB led off 16 times until his injuries forced a change. Ian Happ wound up leading off most of the rest of the year, and that’s going to continue:
The Cubs’ Cactus League opener was a day off for the switch-hitting Ian Happ, who earned the leadoff job last season and will remain there come Opening Day.
“Ian gets the opportunity to continue that role,” Ross said before his team’s 1-0 win over the Padres. “That was a guy that had a phenomenal year for the abbreviated season. He continues to grow and find out his strengths and weaknesses. I can see him continuing to get better.”
Happ did a decent job in the leadoff spot, hitting .239/.333/.486 (34-for-142) with nine home runs, though his overall .361 OBP was better. Leading off innings he was even better (small sample size alert!): .275/.342/.594 (19-for-69) with six home runs.
Leadoff has been an issue for the Cubs since Dexter Fowler departed. Hopefully Happ and his career .344 OBP can help that.
Here are today’s particulars.
Happ DH, Hoerner 2B, Heyward RF, Bryant 3B, Romine C, Martini LF, Wisdom 1B, Ortega CF, Vargas SS
Merrifield RF, Benintendi LF, Perez C, O’Hearn 1B, Dozier 3B, Matias DH, Alberto 2B, Starling CF, Fox SS
Seuly Matias, the Royals’ DH, hit a monster home run in Goodyear on Monday [VIDEO].
The first picture is the view of home plate from the base of the palm tree that interrupted Seuly Matias’ home run today. The second picture is the view of the palm tree, which Matias hit just under the leaves. pic.twitter.com/TfDDn9QJeI— Sam Mellinger (@mellinger) March 2, 2021
Adbert Alzolay will start for the Cubs this afternoon. Other Cubs pitchers today: Gray Fenter, Juan Gámez, Jonathan Holder, Jake Jewell, Brendon Little, Dillon Maples, Duane Underwood Jr. and Dan Winkler.
Jakob Junis will start for the Royals.
Today’s game is on Marquee Sports Network. Here’s a list of providers currently carrying Marquee.
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.
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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 2:05 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 photos and regular-season stats will return on Opening Day.
Discuss amongst yourselves.