The Cubs face Matt Cain and the San Francisco Giants today at 2.05 PM CT. Audio available on MLB.com.
Here's the lineup for today's game:
- DeJesus CF
- Castro SS
- Rizzo 1B
- Soriano LF
- Schierholtz RF
- Navarro C
- Bogusevic DH
- Barney 2B
- Villanueva 3B
Starting Pitcher: Jeff Samardzija
This is a very different spring for Jeff Samardzija. He had a great second half out of the bullpen in 2011 after two straight poor seasons in 2009 and 2010 -- but 2012 was about proving himself all over again as a starter. This year Samardzija goes in as arguably the team's best starting pitcher and all he's looking to do now is build on a breakthrough season -- and perhaps pitch his way into a long term deal.
5 things to watch for:
- The lineup today is very similar to the one we'll see in the regular season against RHP -- and they'll be facing a real big test today in Matt Cain.
- Nate Schierholtz is facing his former team and taking on a new role with the Cubs. He'll be in a prime spot in the lineup at #5 where he is expected to help Anthony Rizzo provide some power and production from the left side. Schierholtz was once the Giants #3 prospect but hasn't lived up to expectations so far. He'll get a fresh opportunity and a welcome change of scenery from AT&T park, where he struggled for most of his career.
- Not much in the way of prospects but we'll get a good look at 3B Christian Villaueva today. Texas considered him a sleeper in their organization and weren't eager to let him go for Dempster, but with depth at 3B, they agreed to the deal. Villanueva is now the Cubs sleeper prospect at 3B with good contact ability, a solid approach, and defense which some scouts rate a 70 on the 20-80 scale. That would put him just behind Albert Almora when it comes to the system's best defensive prospects.
- Alfonso Soriano makes his first appearance of the spring and looks to continue the momentum he's built since switching to a lighter bat last season. The Cubs are counting on him as their main source of RH power but if they're not in contention by the trade deadline, this season could be Soriano's last go-round with the Cubs.
- For those of you that like deep sleepers, Brian Bogusevic gets a start today at DH. The Cubs picked him up early in the offseason as he has that combination of athleticism and approach that the team is trying to add. He should provide some speed and decent pop from the left side. He probably starts the year in Iowa but could well be playing in Chicago when and if the team starts dealing away veterans. He's a good fit for this team and it wouldn't surprise me to see him put together a solid spring and solidify a top spot on the OF depth chart at Iowa.
** I'll be celebrating my mom's birthday today so I'll miss much of the game, but please feel free to use this article as a game thread as well.**