Joe Maddon’s team gets back to work tonight after spending the day off back in Arizona. The Cubs open a four-game series Thursday (8:40pm CDT) against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. John Lackey is set to make his Cubs debut in the third game of the season. Four more games until the home opener on Monday against the Reds. Wrigley Field is almost ready for Opening Night, the marquee returned Wednesday and the changes to the old ballyard look great.
Anthony Rizzo is expected to officially announce his cereal at an event on April 14 according to the Tribune. ‘RizzO’s’ is available exclusively at participating Chicago area Jewel-Osco stores and online through plbsports.com and Amazon.com.
A portion of the proceeds from ‘RizzO’s,’ a honey nut toasted oat cereal, benefits the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation which raises money for cancer research and to provide support to children and their families fighting the disease.
It’s always great to see an athlete use his/her celebrity to help others.
And for those that missed them …
Anthony Rizzo has two commercials in regular rotation, one with Kris Bryant at ‘The Bryzzo Souvenir Company.’
Players Thank Joe Maddon with Two Bottles of Whiskey
With the close of Spring Training and prior to the first game of the, Dexter Fowler, on behalf of the team, thanked Joe Maddon with a gracious gift — two bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch whisky, one with a custom engraving to commemorate the Cub’s team mantra. The engraved bottle read: Embrace the Target
This gift of gratitude embodies the joyous attitude Maddon brought to his team throughout their Spring Training. He has truly challenged the Cubs to progress forward this season as they strive to reach the ultimate.
Fowler said in a release, “As a thank you for setting the tone and motivating us for the season ahead, I wanted to give Joe [Maddon] a special gift. I had our Spring Training mantra, ‘Embrace the Target,’ engraved on a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label and gave him a blank bottle as well to be engraved at a later date. We don’t know what’s in store for the season, but knowing this team and the guidance Joe’s provided, we have high expectations on what that engraving will say.”
Joe Maddon told the Tribune that the gift was “kind of a surprise” and that he would “open the bottles at the appropriate time.” Maddon is going to keep the unmarked bottle in his office and thought it was “very cool” the players would do that for him.
Cubs-Diamondbacks Probable Pitchers
The Cubs open a four-game series at Chase Field on Thursday night. John Lackey gets the ball in the opener and will face right-hander Rubby De La Rosa.
Jason Hammel is scheduled to take the mound Friday. Chip Hale is sending lefty Robbie Ray to the hill. Kyle Hendricks has the pleasure of opposing Zack Greinke on Saturday night.
The series wraps up late Sunday afternoon with Jake Arrieta and Shelby Miller.
Starlin Castro is quickly becoming a fan favorite in the Bronx according to the Yankees’ beat writers. Castro had a huge night at the plate Wednesday and put his name on a short list with two of the greatest to ever play the game.
Castro went 4-for-5 with a double, a home run and five RBI. Castro hit a three-run homer in the second inning and led the way in the Yankees thumping of the Astros, 16-6.
In two games, Starlin Castro has driven in seven runs. Castro’s seven RBI ties him with Tino Martinez (1997), Yogi Berra (1956) and Babe Ruth (1932) for the most RBI by a Yankee in the first two games of a season.
News and Notes
• Theo Epstein told the Tribune there is enough room in the payroll to add a player before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
• Sports psychologist helps Cubs prepare for the grueling season according to the Tribune.
• Cubs veterans were more than willing to share playoff wealth according to the Tribune.
• The Sun-Times: World Series champions or 2016 failures? Cubs ‘don’t buy that’
• ESPN Chicago posted what was learned about the Cubs after the two games against the Angels.
• Patrick Mooney explained how the stars aligned for the Cubs to land Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta and Joe Maddon.
• According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs count on April power to help bring champagne showers.
• Joe Maddon thinks a week ahead while making lineups according to CBS Chicago.
• Paul Sullivan reported Joe Maddon’s iPad gets early season workout.
• The Cubs scored huge ratings for WLS on Opening Night. According to the Tribune, the Cubs scored an 8.0 household rating, the highest on ABC-7 since the station started televising games last year. Over 24 games last season, the average rating was 4.8.
• Dan Szymborski posted the final ZiPS projected standings prior to the first game of the season. ZiPS still has the Cubs winning the NL Central with a 94-68 record and finishing with the best record in baseball.
• Hardball Talk reported average Major League player salary hits $4.4 million.
• Jonathan Mayo broke the story Wednesday that Marlins top prospect RHP Tyler Kolek had Tommy John surgery. The Cubs were linked to Kolek before the 2014 draft. The Marlins selected the big right-hander with the second overall pick. The Cubs took Kyle Schwarber two picks later.
• The Angels placed lefty Andrew Heaney on the 15-day DL on Wednesday, a day after he started against the Cubs. Heaney has a left flexor muscle strain, which is typically a precursor to Tommy John surgery. Heaney is expected to avoid Tommy John. Heaney complained of tightness in his forearm after he left the game against the Cubs according to Alden Gonzalez.
• Cardinals’ lefty Marco Gonzales has been sidelined by an elbow injury. Gonzales is scheduled to see an orthopedist this week to determine the severity of the injury. Gonzales “has already seen a Cardinals’ team doctor, though the organization will hold off on announcing any diagnosis until after his second visit” according to Jenifer Langosch.
And last, but not least, Ryne Sandberg bought a house in Lake Bluff for $1.1 million.
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Cubs released Ryan Sweeney
1995 – Cubs signed free agent Mark Grace
1995 – Cubs granted free agency to Glenallen Hill
1995 – Cubs granted free agency to Derrick May
1991 – Cubs traded Mitch Williams to the Phillies for Chuck McElroy and Bob Scanlan
1986 – Cubs released Warren Brusstar
1985 – Cubs signed free agent Dave Gumpert
1982 – Cubs released Tony Fossas
1980 – Cubs purchased Mark Lemongello from the Blue Jays
1973 – Ron Santo singled with two outs in the 10th inning and gave the Cubs a 3-2 victory over the Expos at Wrigley Field.
1972 – Expos traded a PTBNL and Dan McGinn to the Cubs for Hal Breeden and Hector Torres. Montreal sent Bill Kelso to the Cubs on June 24, 1972 to complete the trade.
1965 – Cubs acquired Bob Humphreys from the Cardinals for Hal Gibson and Bobby Ffeil
1962 – Cubs traded Bobby Locke to the Cardinals for Allen Herring
1960 – Cubs returned Harry Bright to the Pirates
1944 – Bill Stoneman, born
1942 – Tom Phoebus, born
1933 – Bobby Del Greco, born
1930 – Richie Myers, born
1874 – John Ganzel, born