Okay, game starts in about 25 minutes so let's get right to it. The Cubs travel to Camelback Ranch to face the LA Dodgers. The game is on MLB.com-- both video and audio!
Here are today's lineups...
- Valbuena 2B
- Barney DH
- Schierholtz RF
- Hairston CF
- Nelson 1B
- McDonald LF
- Castillo C
- Lake 3B
- Gonzalez SS
Starting Pitcher: Carlos Villanueva
Carlos Villanueva is in competition with Travis Wood for the last available starting spot. Villanueva is a guy who depends on command and changing speeds so I wouldn't be too concerned if he's not that sharp yet. I think both he and Wood will get more time to prove who is most ready to start the season in the rotation.
5 Things to Watch For...
- Junior Lake gets the start at 3B and is coming off a game where he showed everybody why he can be so frustrating and so exciting all in the same game. He struck out twice and then hit a towering, tape measure HR in his last AB. His defense is going to be a big key for Lake's chances to find his way to Wrigley sometime this season. He has the arm to play there and his size is a better fit at the hot corner.
- Nate Schierholtz was listed at 1B originally, making me wonder if he'd get some time there this spring. The Cubs don't really have a long term replacement in the unfortunate event that Rizzo gets hurt. EDIT: turns out it was just a typo in the original lineup.
- Two top SP prospects, Barret Loux and Robert Whitenack, made the trip today and could see some action. Loux is competing with Nick Struck, Brooks Raley, and others for that 8th and 9th "spot" in the rotation. Whitenack, meanwhile, looks to rebound from a season which was more focused on rehabbing and building strength for this season. If healthy, he could add another top SP prospect to the Cubs organization.
- A couple of interesting position changes: Luis Valbuena is at 2B and Scott Hairston is in CF. Valbuena is likely to see more time at 2B if Ian Stewart is named the starting 3B this year and his bat profiles better there provided he can handle it defensively. The Cubs are likely looking for a platoon partner for David DeJesus in CF. We've seen Dave Sappelt out there already and now we'll see Hairston. Sappelt is the better athlete at this stage but Hairston has the edge in experience, having already logged plenty of CF time in the majors.
- Alberto Gonzalez is among the mix for that last bench spot on the roster with Ed Maysonet, Brent Lillibridge, and others. Gonzalez is the best defender in the group and he's a legit SS. His bat, however, is behind his rivals right now.
*** Bonus item: Jorge Soler and Javier Baez have both made the trip to Glendale, so we may see them come in later in the game***