The Countdown is over … The Cubs open the 2015 season tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals. It’s Jon Lester versus Adam Wainwright in Joe Maddon’s first game as Cubs’ manager. And the old ballyard that is filled with tributes to the greatest player in franchise history will be buzzing with an excitement level that hasn’t been felt at Wrigley for the better part of a decade.
As of this writing, Joe Maddon hasn’t announced his first lineup of the season. Maddon hinted he would likely bat Jon Lester eighth tonight. Maddon figures to hit the pitcher eighth rather often over the first month as he settles in and gets an even better feel for his roster.
And speaking of roster, the Cubs have until 2:00pm CDT to finalize the first 25-man roster of the season. Unless the front office is able to move a player, or two, it’s been shopping there are two open spots with three players in the mix to take reserve roles.
OF Matt Szczur, OF Ryan Sweeney and INF Jonathan Herrera are the last three players left standing but there only two chairs.
And the weather is looking very good for tonight’s opener … first pitch around 60 degrees falling in to the mid – to high-50s by 9:00pm CDT.
Left Field Video Board
The Cubs took batting practice at Wrigley on Saturday afternoon on a rather windy day in Chicago.
Jorge Soler reportedly hit one off the video board. And Mike Olt also launched a ball that smacked the megatron.
News, Notes and Rumors
• According to Patrick Mooney, building the Cubs can be a cold-blooded business for Theo Epstein.
• The Sun-Times reported … Jon Lester on the mound, Kris Bryant on deck as the Cubs deal with Cards.
• The Cubs are one of 12 teams facing the most pressure this season according to Joel Sherman.
• The Orioles acquired RHP Michael Bowden according to Pete Abraham. The former Red Sox and Cubs hurler was in Reds’ camp this spring. Abraham pointed out that Dan Duquette is “collecting more former Red Sox.”
• Matt Snyder thinks Edwin Jackson is a candidate to be 2015’s Wade Davis.
• For those that would like to see the base jewels for Opening Night … click here and scroll down the CCO’s Twitter feed. There are also photos that show the banners covering the bleacher construction with tributes to Ernie Banks.
• Jim Bowden predicted Jorge Soler will win the NL Rookie of the Year.
• Bill Mitchell was rather impressed with Daury Torrez. According to his report, Torres was “outstanding” during Saturday’s outing for High-A Myrtle Beach. Torrez tossed six innings of shutout ball while allowing four hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
• Jesse Rogers asked: Who will be the biggest surprise this season?
• The Cubs are poised to deliver more than just laughs according to Jon Greenberg.
• The Wall Street Journal posted a Major League Baseball Fan Compatibility Test.
And last, but not least, Pedro Gomez picked the Cubs to win the NL Central. Gomez was the only ESPN.com national writer/reporter to pick the Cubs to finish ahead of the Cardinals and Pirates in the division and Jonah Kerri tabbed the Cubs as one of the Wild Card teams. If Kerri’s prediction comes true, the Cubs would host the Marlins at Wrigley.
This Day In Cubstory
2012 – Rays selected John Gaub off waivers from the Cubs
2009 – Cubs released Chad Gaudin
2004 – Cubs signed free agents Giovanni Carrara and Benji Gil
2004 – Cubs signed free agent Glendon Rusch
1995 – Cubs traded Geno Morones and Derek Wallace to the Royals for Brian McRae
1993 – On Opening Day, Greg Maddux faced the Cubs for the first time and pitched 8 1/3 innings of shutout ball at Wrigley Field. Mike Stanton recorded the final two outs in a 1-0 Braves victory over the Cubs.
1986 – Steve Clevenger, born
1985 – Cubs released Tom Veryzer
1985 – Ian Stewart, born
1976 – Ross Gload, born
1967 – Greg Smith, born
1953 – Andy MacPhail, born
1938 – Cubs signed free agent Jack Russell
1938 – Don Prince, born
1936 – Jimmie Schaffer, born
1911 – St. Paul of the American Association purchased Harry Steinfeldt from the Cubs
1865 – Chuck Lauer, born