Cubs

Left Field Well, The Platform among Cubs bleacher additions

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Left Field Well, The Platform among Cubs bleacher additions

By Sarah Langs

CSNChicago.com contributor

The bleacher bums are back.

After undergoing renovation over the offseason and into the first month of the 2015 season, the left- and center-field bleachers were back in business on Monday night at Wrigley Field.

The bleachers debuted in their signature green, with a pink twist. It was “Pink Out” night at Wrigley Field in honor of breast cancer awareness, so each fan with a bleacher seat was given a pink shirt.

Players took the opportunity to interact with the returning cache of fans almost immediately. After gates opened at 5:05 p.m., pitchers in the outfield began tossing balls to particularly insistent fans. Starlin Castro hit the first BP home run into the new bleachers once fans arrived -- into one of the upper rows of left-center field, caught on a fly by a fan with a mitt.

[RELATED: Kenney discusses new bleacher amenities]

The renovated bleachers aren’t just the old space with new paint. There are new facilities and services throughout the outfield, in addition to new benches. The front row of the bleachers features the “Left Field Well,” with stools and room for groups to stand during the game. The well is split into three sections, each section holds between 15 and 25 people.

At the top of the left-field section sits the new group porch, which is set to open on June 11. The new area provides a higher angle for a wide view of the entire park, and fits up to 100 people. For the next few homestands, it’ll be open to fans with a regular bleacher ticket to check out the new view.

People in the bleachers means there’s a need for food -- and a lot of it. The renovated outfield area has a new concession stand at the top of the left-center set of bleachers, plus one on the concourse level directly below. There’s also a new area for concession stands called The Platform, which is not yet completed.

That area, behind center field, at the bottom of the original Wrigley scoreboard, will feature multiple concession stands upon its completion in July. An additional eight-to-10 feet of width was added in some parts of the concourse during construction, making The Platform possible. 

Adbert Alzolay makes some memories on an otherwise forgettable night for the Cubs

Adbert Alzolay makes some memories on an otherwise forgettable night for the Cubs

The Cubs lost an entirely forgettable game on Tuesday night, dropping the second of their four games against the NL East-leading Braves by a score of 3-2. They left four men on base, only managed four hits, ran into two outs, and made one error in a game that was over well in time for a Clark Street nightcap, or three. 

What was memorable about Tuesday night was the performance of Adbert Alzolay, the Cubs’ top pitching prospect who was making his first major league start. The final line: 4.2 innings pitched, one hit, one run, four walks and four strikeouts. It’s certainly not the prettiest line you’ll see in tomorrow’s box scores, but the 24 year old passed the eye test with flying colors. 

“Everything was good - he was outstanding,” Joe Maddon said after the game. “I just think he hit a well there at the end. We just have to get him more used to that. Listen, he’s been injured in the past, he’s coming back - you’ve got to be real sensitive to the number of pitches and workload you put on him, because you can see how good he’s going to be.”

Things got off to an inauspicious start for Alzolay, whose first pitch of the game was crushed 413 feet into the left field bleachers for a leadoff homer, courtesy of Braves’ outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. It would prove to be the only hit and run that Alzolay allowed on the night. 

“It’s just one pitch,” he said. “You have to keep working - the game continues. I was just starting the game, so if you lose your mind in that situation than you’re not going to last a lot of innings.

“Even after the home run, he came right back and said, ‘I’m fine’,” Maddon added. “Then he went up and got three really good hitters out. I liked the mound demeanor, we’ve just got to get him a little further along in regards to being stretched out.”

After coming out flat with his secondary pitches during his 4-inning relief appearance on June 20th, Alzolay flashed better command and execution of both his curveball and changeup. Half of his strikeouts came on the curveball - one to get left fielder Austin Riley in the 2nd and one to get Acuña in the 3rd. After throwing 13 changeups in his debut, Alzolay double that number on Tuesday (27). 

“I’m feeling really confident throwing the pitch in any count,” Alzolay said of his changeup. “Tonight I threw it a couple times when I was behind in the count and I got a good result after that, so I’ll just keep on throwing it.

“For us to get confident at something, you have to practice, you have to execute it, and you have to use it in the game,” said catcher Willson Contreras, who plated both of the Cubs’ two runs with a double in the 4th. “For him to be able to throw the changeup for a strike, and strikeout people, it’s really good - especially at his age.”

Maddon couldn’t answer when Alzolay would make his next start. With Kyle Hendricks eyeing a return around the All-Star break, there would seemingly be a few more opportunities ahead of the rookie. Given what he showed on Tuesday night, it’d be hard to argue against it.

"He can be really good in the big leagues," Contreras said. "He still needs to make adjustments like all of us, but with the confidence he has, the ability he has, and the way he prepares before the games, it's going to take him a long way."

Cubs Talk Podcast: Ryne Sandberg: Part 1

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Ryne Sandberg: Part 1

Luke Stuckmeyer sits down with Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg for a wide-ranging conversation centered around the infamous "Sandberg Game."

Ryne gives insight into his feelings upon being traded to the Cubs (2:00), and discusses the reason he ended up with the No. 23 (5:00). Plus, how the 1984 season changed everything and raised his personal expectations sky-high (9:00) and the "Daily Double" dynamic between him and Bob Dernier (16:00).

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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