Cubs

What will Cubs Opening Day lineup look like?

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What will Cubs Opening Day lineup look like?

Friday, Feb. 25, 2011Posted: 6:30 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. They circled the board where the lineup was supposed to be posted and saw empty white space. It frustrated them last year, not knowing if or where theyd play while trying to get ready for a game.

This is not to say that Lou Piniella didnt know what he was doing or that Mike Quade has all the answers.

Piniella won more than 1,800 games and a World Series during a managing career that should land him in the Hall of Fame. Quade is only running his first big-league camp.

But you could see the differences on Friday as bench coach Pat Listach struggled to find room on a clubhouse door to tape up yet another piece of paper. He had lineups for the first three exhibition games before the Cubs had completely moved out of Fitch Park.

Heres what it looks like for Sundays Cactus League opener, down the street at HoHoKam Park against the Oakland As:

1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2. Starlin Castro, SS
3. Marlon Byrd, CF
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5. Carlos Pena, 1B
6. Alfonso Soriano, LF
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Blake DeWitt, 2B
9. Carlos Zambrano, P

Replace Zambrano with Ryan Dempster and that could be your lineup on Opening Day at Wrigley Field.

Next to each name in parentheses was the player who would substitute in next. The sheet also noted that there will be a two at-bat minimum and a five-inning maximum. An organization man, Quade is all about the details.

Rod Blagojevich once sent Piniella his lineup suggestions, and Quade understands that he will constantly be second-guessed.

Everybody thinks they can manage, Quade said. Im a fan. I look at other clubs and go: How come that guys hitting there?

The manager will defer to veterans, locking in Ramirez as the cleanup hitter. He still views Fukudome as the best leadoff option if the matchups are right that day.

I dont hate it, Fukudome said with a smile to a Japanese reporter.

For now Quade is looking beyond Fukudomes .193 average from the No. 1 spot last season. Quade thinks of Fukudome as someone who sees a lot of pitches and has posted good on-base percentages across his first three seasons: .359; .375; and .371.

Ultimately, the lineup combinations and the final scores wont really matter across the next month. But Quade is particularly interested in seeing new pieces like Pena and Matt Garza up close, as well as rising prospects Trey McNutt and Brett Jackson. How he interacts with them does count.

Players are obsessed with routine. They live in a bubble where everything is taken care of for them. A pair of pants fell out of one players bag as he walked out of the clubhouse Friday afternoon and he barely broke stride.

Veteran move, he said. Watch this.

He tossed the pants into a laundry cart, cracking up a few reporters and a team official.

Quade wants to simplify things for his players and let them know where they stand. He is prepared, but this didnt keep him up at night. He didnt spend his offseason in Florida staring out into the Gulf of Mexico and picturing his lineup.

If I find myself in the middle of a bunch of trout or redfish someday and all of a sudden Im thinking about whos my third-hole hitter, Ill kill myself, Quade said. Theres plenty of time for that. Theres all sorts of things that will become clear later. And why in the world get locked in too early when theres so much that can change?

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs could get another bullpen boost soon as Carl Edwards Jr. nears return

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USA TODAY

Cubs could get another bullpen boost soon as Carl Edwards Jr. nears return

Cole Hamels is still likely more than a week away from returning, but the Cubs could get another arm back soon to help augment the pitching staff.

Carl Edwards Jr. threw another outing Tuesday night with Triple-A Iowa, his fourth appearance on this latest rehab assignment while recovering from a left thoracic strain. 

The 27-year-old righty allowed two hits and a walk in a scoreless inning, notching all three outs on strikeouts. He also pitched Saturday and on July 1st and 4th before Iowa also hit their midseason break. He last pitched in the big leagues on June 9.

"CJ's progressing well," Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said. "He's feeling better every time out. Good CJ stuff [Tuesday] — fastball's got some carry, some cut to it. He's feeling good."

As for what comes next, the Cubs don't have a plan in place yet. That will depend on how Edwards continues to feel after his latest outing.

"The one thing with him has been the rebound," Hottovy said. "We talk about the recovery that next day, he's had a couple days where he's like, 'yeah I feel good.' And a couple days where it's like, 'ah, I need another day.' 

"So that's always a thing you want to do with relievers is make sure their recovery and their rebound is there. The last thing you want to do have a guy come up and he pitches and then you can't use him for 2 or 3 days. We just gotta make sure we hit all those checkpoints as well."

Edwards got off to a rough start and struggled toward the end of the 2018 season, but he's a huge piece to the Cubs bullpen puzzle and he was dynamic upon his return from minor-league demotion earlier this year.

From his first outing after being called back up (May 6) until the injury hit (June 9), Edwards surrendered only 3 earned runs on 4 hits and 3 walks against 15 strikeouts in 13.1 innings — good for a 2.03 ERA and 0.525 WHIP.

As the Cubs look to bolster their bullpen ahead of the MLB trade deadline in two weeks, Edwards looms as another addition given his ability to neutralize both right-handed and left-handed hitters and induce weak contact when he's on.

Of course, there's obviously some inherent risk in counting on Edwards to be a reliable piece of the bullpen given the way the last couple years have gone. But if he's healthy and pitching the way he had for a full month before the injury, that's a nice option the Cubs can fold into their bullpen alongside Craig Kimbrel, Pedro Strop, Steve Cishek, Brandon Kintzler and Kyle Ryan.

Yu Darvish finally has his first win at Wrigley

Yu Darvish finally has his first win at Wrigley

Yu Darvish blew a 98 mph fastball by Yasiel Puig, pumped his fist emphatically and let out a primal yell as he walked off the mound while 37,260 fans at Wrigley Field backed him up with maybe the loudest "YUUUU!!!" chant of the season.

It was the final pitch he threw on the afternoon as he completely dismantled the Reds lineup in a 4-2 Cubs victory.

"How 'bout it? Good for him," Joe Maddon said. "Yu just keeps trending in the right direction. That last out, he pretty much — as they say — emptied the tank and it worked out pretty well.

"The people yelling for him coming off the field was awesome and I know he feels that in a positive way and he deserves it."

Since the All-Star Break, Darvish leads Major League Baseball in ERA — he hasn't allowed a run in 12 innings while striking out 15 and giving up only 4 hits and a walk. 

Oh yeah, and he finally picked up his first Wrigley Field win in a Cubs uniform...in his 14th start at the Friendly Confines (28 starts overall).

"It's amazing," Darvish said. "First win at Wrigley — I was always looking for that first win."

In both outings to start the second half, he took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and they're also the only two scoreless starts he has as a member of the Cubs (he gave up 0 earned run April 27 last year against the Brewers, but was charged with an unearned run).

The last time Darvish went back-to-back outings with at least 6 scoreless innings was April 2014, his final season before Tommy John surgery.

The Cubs are now 5-1 since the All-Star Break on the heels of their starting rotation, which has churned out a quality start in each of the six second-half games.