Cubs

Cubs announce plans for extended protective netting at Wrigley Field for 2020

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USA TODAY

Cubs announce plans for extended protective netting at Wrigley Field for 2020

Baseball fans will be more protected than ever at Wrigley Field this season.

Saturday, Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney announced the club is extending protective netting at Wrigley Field to the elbows of the ballpark. Essentially, it will stretch a bit past where the old on-field bullpens were and stop before the walls in the left and right field corners.

Kenney added the extensions will be ready by Opening Day.

Last month, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced all 30 ballparks will extend their netting for the 2020 season. Manfred didn’t specify which teams would do what, but he said netting at each stadium would extend “substantially beyond the end of the dugout.”

With pitchers throwing harder than ever and batter exit velocities are through the roof, fans have little time to react in the stands when a ball is launched their way. It’s nearly impossible to avoid getting hit, even for those paying attention.

The Cubs have experienced this firsthand. In a game against the Astros last season, an Albert Almora Jr. foul ball struck a 2-year-old at Minute Maid Park. That young girl has a permanent brain injury, her family’s attorney announced earlier this month, an injury that affects her body similar to how a stroke would.

Almora was visibly shaken after the incident and said Friday at Cubs Convention it weighed heavily on him for the first couple of days.

“After that I had no other choice but to move forward,” Almora said. “But I always have that in the back of my mind. Every update that does come up, I am on there and I am seeing all of this."

Almora said he’s tried reaching out to the family but is respecting their privacy. As a father of two himself, he said there’s no reason to even think of his sons getting hurt while attending a game.

“Obviously prayers go out to the family. It’s unfortunate, and like I said before, that should never happen on a baseball field."

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Cubs first spring training game in 2020 delayed due to inclement weather

Cubs first spring training game in 2020 delayed due to inclement weather

Our first glimpse at the 2020 Cubs will have to wait.

Because of forecasted inclement weather into the afternoon, the Cubs' first spring training game on Sunday will be postponed to later in the day.  This is to let the rain past and prep the field for the tomorrow's opener at Sloan Parka gainst the Oakland Athletics.

The Cubs game will now start at 7:10 CT instead.

And it's not just the game that is affected, the Cubs are encouraging fans to reconsider how they plan on getting to the ballpark.

"With high rain accumulation expected through the day, parking at Sloan Park could be limited," the Cubs said in a statement. "The Chicago Cubs and City of Mesa encourage guests to carpool, take public transportation or utilize ride sharing services."

The good news, no ticket exchange is necessary. So if you get there and the rains pass, you shouldn't have a hard time getting in.

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Anthony Rizzo trolls Astros, makes prediction for post-cheating scandal

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USA TODAY

Anthony Rizzo trolls Astros, makes prediction for post-cheating scandal

Anthony Rizzo's got jokes.

Thursday, Rizzo poked fun at the Houston Astros cheating scandal. The Cubs first baseman posted on his Instagram story "I think it's safe to say I won't lead the league in hit by pitches this year..." accompanied by a gif of three trash cans.

*Eyes emoji*

The Astros used a camera during their 2017 championship season to steal opposing teams' signs. Houston would relay those signs to their dugout, and someone would bang a trash can to signal to Astros hitters the exact pitch coming their way.

The scandal has players fuming league-wide, with more damning information advancing the story seemingly by the day. Now, there's an overwhelming feeling opponents will retaliate by intentionally plunking Astros hitters this season.

RELATED: Jon Lester crushes Rob Manfred for devaluing World Series trophy 'quite significantly'

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is warning all 30 teams consequences will come from any intentional beanballs. This could turn problematic fast, as umpires may overreact to any hit-by-pitch. Pitchers have the right to throw inside, and sometimes, a pitch just runs in too tight.

Rizzo is all too familiar with this, hence the bigger punchline to his post. The 30-year-old has been hit 145 times in his nine-year MLB career — second among all active players (Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo holds a slight 'advantage' at 150, albeit with six more seasons on his résumé). 

Rizzo notoriously stands on top of the plate, hence why he's plunked so frequently. If an Astro is hit more than him in 2020, one will rightfully make the connection to Houston's scandal.

In the meantime, we're here for Rizzo trolling, and he won't be the last player to do so at the Astros' expense.