Happy Opening Day
One of, if not the most anticipated season in franchise history begins tonight in Anaheim when the Cubs face the Angels in Game 1 of 162. All of the talk and hype is over. It’s up to the players, Joe Maddon and the coaching staff to produce on the field.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have built one of the deepest rosters in baseball and have attempted to put backup plans in place to keep injury or poor performance from derailing the team.
The Cubs goal for the season is to win the National League Central Division and get back to the post-season tournament. Once in the playoffs, anything is possible and that includes the Cubs reaching its ultimate goal.
Joe Maddon will keep his players focused on the day and the moment and not looking too far ahead.
Anthony Rizzo said it perfectly Sunday when talking to the beat writers.
“If anyone in this clubhouse is thinking about the World Series right now, we’re in the wrong spot. We need to think about winning the game, think about dominating April and every game in April and keep focusing on the small steps.”
The first step of the journey is today in Anaheim.
Opening Day Lineup
When Sunday’s lineup came out most thought it was a preview of Opening Day. But that might not be the case.
Joe Maddon had a starting nine of Dexter Fowler CF, Jason Heyward RF, Kris Bryant 3B, Anthony Rizzo 1B, Ben Zobrist 2B, Kyle Schwarber LF, Jorge Soler DH, Miguel Montero C and Addison Russell SS with Kyle Hendricks on the mound.
The Sun-Times reported Maddon could also start Kris Bryant in left field and Tommy La Stella at third base which would move Kyle Schwarber to DH and Jorge Soler would not be in the starting lineup.
Stay Tuned …
Joe Maddon answered questions about Jorge Soler on Sunday after the lineup for the final spring game was released and Soler was not starting in the outfield.
Soler has worked tirelessly with Dave Martinez. Maddon told the beat writers he is working on his defense. And the Cubs’ skipper thought he “had a great camp in regards to work.”
ESPN Chicago pointed out that Maddon said Soler is “working” on his defense. Maddon did not say he’s seen improvement from Soler in the outfield. Maddon indicated in later conversations that Soler “was taking the right steps.”
According to multiple reports, Maddon talked about being patient with Soler. Maddon feels as Soler becomes more comfortable with his surroundings it will result in better play on the field.
ESPN Chicago reported, “Soler is the lone Cuban/non-English speaking player on the team … though he’s improving in that area as well. The manager believes the more Soler gets acclimated to his surroundings the better player he’ll become.” Maddon told the beat writers he overheard Soler say “Thank you” in English while at Starbucks and he thought that “was a big step” for the outfielder.
Every Opening Day brings hope to a fan base that is starving for a championship. With the team Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have assembled, the media coverage around this team is at an all-time high. On paper, the Cubs have one of, if not the best team in baseball. Joe Maddon’s team will be the story all season, one way or another.
Here are Opening Day reports from several outlets:
- Comcast SportsNet – Theo Epstein’s laser focus is on Cubs winning the World Series
- The Washington Post – Theo Epstein broke the curse in Boston. Will his magic work for the Cubs?
- The Tribune – The Weight: Season of great expectations begins, how did the Cubs get here?
- The Tribune – First month of season could be crucial to Cubs, Sox
- The Tribune – Potentially historic Cubs season starts with Joe Maddon returning to past
- The Tribune – Cubs eager to start season, table talk about World Series expectations
- CBS Chicago – Bruce Levine: Cubs Power Should Be Appointment Viewing
- ESPN Chicago – Cubs have one goal in mind for 2016: Win the World Series
- The Sun-Times – Cubs created the target on their backs … and why the front office isn’t done sweating this season’s roster
- Carrie Muskat – Cubs hungry, but not thinking World Series yet
News, Notes and Rumors
• ESPN Chicago posted notes from the Cubs last pre-season game.
• Jesse Rogers answered several questions from Twitter on ESPN Chicago.
• The Cubs and White Sox are making historic shifts on radio according to a report from Ed Sherman.
• The Sun-Times: Baseball first, off-field balance second nature for Cubs’ Kris Bryant
• And Kris Bryant has a billboard across from Wrigley Field … click here.
• The Nationals released OF Reed Johnson and reassigned INF Brendan Ryan to minor league camp on Sunday.
• The Angels signed LHP Neal Cotts to a minor league contract. According to Jeff Fletcher he will report to Triple-A.
• LHP Ryan Butcher made the Padres’ Opening Day roster.
• The Diamondbacks have not ruled out trying to acquire a centerfielder from outside the organization to fill in while A.J. Pollock is out according to Jon Paul Morosi. The D-Backs would like to see if Chris Owings and/or Socrates Brito can handle the position first. According to Jon Heyman, the Diamondbacks are considering the recently released Michael Bourn.
• The Pirates locked up OF Gregory Polanco to a five-year extension with two club options according to Jeff Passan. Ken Rosenthal reported the five-year deal is for $35 million and if both options are exercised, the total value of the contract will be more than $60 million.
And last, but certainly not least, Ted Williams had a hit in every Opening Day game he played in.
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Cubs released Francisley Bueno
2013 – Cubs released Jay Jackson
2012 – Cubs selected Luis Valbuena off waivers from the Blue Jays
2009 – Cubs released Esteban German
2008 – Cubs signed free agent Jesse Garcia
2003 – Sammy Sosa became the first Latin American player to hit 500 home runs. In the seventh inning, Sosa drove a 1-2 pitch from Scott Sullivan into the right field stands at Great American Ball Park.
2005 – Cubs released Eric Eckenstahler
2002 – Cubs selected Mario Encarnacion off waivers from the Rockies
1994 – On Opening Day at Wrigley Field, Tuffy Rhodes became the first player to homer in his first three at bats of the season. All three solo home runs were hit off Dwight Gooden. The Cubs lost 12-8 to the Mets and Rhodes ended up hitting eight home runs for the Cubs during the 1994 season.
1958 – Marty Mason, born
1946 – Giants selected Bennie Warren off waivers from the Cubs
1941 – Eddie Watt, born
1916 – Mickey Owen, born
1916 – Willie Ramsdell, born
1905 – Cap Anson was elected City Clerk of Chicago.
1892 – Chicago National League Ball Club traded Fred Pfeffer to Louisville for James Canavan and an undisclosed amount of money.
1859 – Joe Brown, born