Cubs

Cubs: Portion of Wrigley Field Bleachers to open May 11

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Cubs: Portion of Wrigley Field Bleachers to open May 11

The Cubs announced that the Budweiser Bleachers in left and center field will open on Monday, May 11 against the New York Mets. The debut of the Budweiser Bleachers will coincide with Cubs Charities' Pink out sponsored by Advocate Health Care. Each fan with a ticket in the Budweiser Bleachers for Monday's game will receive a "Pink Out" t-shirt, promoting breast cancer prevention and awareness.

The enhanced Bleachers will include renovated concessions, new video boards featuring a mix of game and player stats, video replays, historical Cubs footage, behind-the-scenes interviews with the team and much more. In addition to general admission seating in the Bleachers, there will be enhanced spaces providing an atmosphere and extra space for groups of various sizes.

[MORE CUBS: Cubs trying to get creative in attempt to finish Wrigley bleachers]

“There’s no experience quite like sitting in the Budweiser Bleachers for a Cubs game,” Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney said. “With new group spaces, wider concourses and expanded concession service, we are excited to open the Budweiser Bleachers for our next homestand and celebrate the relaunch of one of the most popular seats in sports with our legacy partner, Anheuser-Busch.”

The Cubs and Budweiser have also partnered up to present Budweiser Bleacher Fridays on select days throughout the season, featuring pre and post-game entertainment, giveaways, special food, beverages and more.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans]

The target date for the right field bleachers to open remains as planned for June 11. Construction will continue throughout the next two months to add new spaces, concessions and additional amenities. The enhanced Budweiser Bleachers will be completed by early July and the Cubs will host a celebratory event for guests in the Budweiser Bleachers on Friday, July 3.

Budweiser Bleacher tickets are available for sale at Cubs.com, by phone at 1-800-THE-CUBS, or at the Wrigley Field Ticket Windows. For more information visit cubs.com/bleachers.

Check out some renderings of the enhanced bleachers via Cubs Media:

Brewers reportedly sign pitcher Josh Lindblom to address rotation need

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USA TODAY

Brewers reportedly sign pitcher Josh Lindblom to address rotation need

The Brewers are looking overseas to address a rotation that has been one of their biggest weaknesses in recent seasons.

According to multiple reports, Milwaukee is signing 32-year-old Josh Lindblom to a three-year deal. It’s worth $9.125 million but can max out at more than $18 million, should Lindblom hit certain bonuses, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.

The Cubs also had discussions with Lindblom, according to MLB.com's Jon Morosi, before he reached a deal with the Brewers.

Lindblom has pitched in parts of five big league seasons since 2011, most recently with the Pirates in 2017. The right-hander holds a career 4.10 ERA in 114 games (six starts) but he remade himself during a successful stint pitching in South Korea in recent seasons.

From 2018-19 with the Doosan Bears, Lindblom went 35-7 with a 2.68 ERA, striking out 346 batters in 363 1/3 innings. He was named MVP of the KBO in 2019. Some of Lindblom's success can be attributed to the splitter he featured in his repertoire.

Lindblom’s name doesn’t jump off the page, but he’s a low-cost addition for the Brewers and is returning stateside an improved pitcher. Milwaukee finished 14th in starting pitcher ERA in 2019, but that figure was a not-so-great 4.40. They traded mainstay Zach Davies — who had been a rotation mainstay since 2016 — to the Padres two weeks ago.

Lindblom joins a rotation featuring Brandon Woodruff, Adrian Houser and Eric Lauer (acquired in the Davies trade). The Brewers also have 25-year-old Corbin Burnes and 23-year-old Freddy Peralta as starting options. The duo struggled in 2019 (Burnes: 8.82 ERA, 32 games/four starts; Peralta: 5.29 ERA, 39 games/eight starts), so the guess here is the Brewers aren’t done shopping for pitching.

Cubs meet with Japanese free agent Shogo Akiyama, a potential solution to multiple needs

Cubs meet with Japanese free agent Shogo Akiyama, a potential solution to multiple needs

The Cubs have met with Japanese free agent Shogo Akiyama, according to WSCR’s Bruce Levine.

Akiyama would help the Cubs address multiple needs: center field and the leadoff spot. The 31-year-old holds a career .376 on-base percentage in Japan’s highest level of baseball, Nippon Professional Baseball.

Eleven Cubs led off at least once last season, posting a .212 average and .294 OBP (both last in MLB). In 143 games with the Saitama Seibu Lions, Akiyama hit .303 with a .392 OBP and 20 home runs.

Five Cubs played center field in 2019, posting a combined .232/.305/.388 (.693 OPS) slash line. Those figures were second-worst among all Cubs positional groups, behind second base. League-wide, Cubs center fielders ranked 20th in both average and OPS.

Money aside, adding Akiyama would all but rule out Nicholas Castellanos returning to the Cubs next season. The former would slot into center field, moving Jason Heyward back over to right. Heyward became the team’s full-time center fielder after the Cubs acquired Castellanos at the trade deadline.

The Cubs prefer to play Heyward in right, where he’s won five Gold Glove Awards in his career. From left to right, a Kyle Schwarber-Heyward-Castellanos outfield is formidable offensively, but together they make up a below-average defensive trio.

Akiyama would likely not cost much on the open market, but as Levine notes, there are other suitors for him beside the Cubs.

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