March 2011

3/31 Barney excited about start

Darwin Barney didn’t have any butterflies on Thursday. We’ll have to wait and see Friday when the rookie starts for the Cubs at second on Opening Day against the Pirates.

“No butterflies yet but I’m excited,” Barney said after Thursday’s workout at Wrigley Field. “It’s a great opportunity but there’s one thing on my mind and that’s trying to win the ballgame and I think that’s what this whole team is looking to do. We’re looking to get off to a good start.

“There are a couple other guys who deserved it as well,” Barney said. “They’ll contribute, if not tomorrow or the next day. I feel fortunate.”

Barney started two games at second base last season at Triple-A Iowa, playing primarily at shortstop.

“Coming into spring, it’s not really what I was expecting to be at the end but about midway through I felt very comfortable at second base, which was new for me,” he said. “The time in the offseaon I spent working at it and thinking about it paid off.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/31 Barney to start at 2B

Rookie second baseman Darwin Barney will start Friday for the Cubs in the season opener against the Pirates. Mike Quade announced the lineup before Thursday’s workout at Wrigley Field. Barney will be the first rookie to start Opening Day for the Cubs since Kosuke Fukudome did in 2008.

The rest of the lineup will be Fukudome in right, shortstop Starlin Castro, center fielder Marlon Byrd, third baseman Aramis Ramirez, first baseman Carlos Pena, catcher Geovany Soto, left fielder Alfonso Soriano, Barney and pitcher Ryan Dempster.

Barney, who hit a two-run homer in Wednesday’s intrasquad game in Mesa, Ariz., batted .340 in 21 games this spring. Jeff Baker, who hit .360 in 19 Cactus League games, will get the start at second base on Saturday against Pirates left Paul Maholm. Blake DeWitt, the Cubs’ other option at second base, struggled this spring, batting .186 in 21 games.

– Carrie Muskat

3/31 Cubs Opening Day lineup – redo

Sorry — it’ll be Geovany Soto sixth, Alfonso Soriano seventh in Cubs Opening Day lineup. Let’s try again:

RF Fukudome

SS Castro

CF Byrd

3B Ramirez

1B Pena

C Soto

LF Soriano

2B Barney

P Dempster

– Carrie Muskat

3/31 Opening Day lineup

Manager Mike Quade announced his lineup for Friday’s season opener:

RF Fukudome

SS Castro

CF Byrd

3B Ramirez

1B Pena

LF Soriano

C Soto

2B Barney

P Dempster

Barney will be first Cubs rookie to start opener since Fukudome in ’08.

– Carrie Muskat

3/31 Opening Day festivities

Actor Robert Redford will throw out the ceremonial first pitch, Ron Santo Jr.will lead the crowd in the seventh inning stretch, and the team will collect donations for victims of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami on Opening Day Friday at Wrigley Field. The Cubs play the Pirates at 1:20 p.m. CT.

Santo will lead the crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” something his late father did more than anyone else. Ron Santo Sr. died in December at the age of 70. The Cubs are wearing No. 10 patches on their uniforms in honor of the broadcaster and third baseman.

Besides Redford, the Ricketts family will select a family of Cubs fans to throw a ceremonial first pitch prior to Friday’s season opener between the Cubs and Pirates.

Redford, who starred in the baseball classic “The Natural,” is in Chicago for the premiere of his latest movie, “The Conspirator,” which opens nationwide April 15. The movie tells the story of the woman charged in the assasination of Abraham Lincoln and the young lawyer who defended her.

The national 9/11 flag will be on display in the outfield as well. The flag was destroyed in the flag was destroyed in the aftermath of the collapse of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, and stitched together seven years later by tornado survivors in Greensburg, Kan.

The Cubs also will have a moment of silence before the game in honor of those affected by the natural disaster in Japan. They will conduct a collection to raise funds for UNICEF to help children affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

– Carrie Muskat

3/31 Ready for Opening Day

Wrigley Field is ready for Opening Day.

3/30 Intrasquad results

The Cubs wrapped up the preseason portion of the schedule on Wednesday with an intrasquad game at HoHoKam Park. The Minor Leaguers beat the Major League squad, 8-6, in front of 3,993 fans. The game gave Randy Wells one more tune-up before the regular season starts. The right-hander, who will be No. 4 in the rotation, gave up one run on two hits and one walk over three innings. Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt were both 2-for-2 and Darwin Barney hit a two-run home run. Josh Vitters hit  RBI triple for the Minor League team. Cubs’ Minor Leaguers actually played most of the game. The Major Leaguers had two at-bats and were then lifted.

– Carrie Muskat

3/30 Cubs extra bases

Andrew Cashner will not accompany the team Wednesday to Chicago but stay back in Arizona to throw in the Cubs Minor League camp. Cashner wasn’t too happy about that.

“He was like mad,” manager Mike Quade said. “He didn’t want to stay back. He wants to go with the club.”

Cashner, who is scheduled to start April 5 against the D-Backs, will fly to Chicago on Thursday so he can be at Wrigley Field in time for Opening Day festivities.

* Quade had two large red-covered notebooks loaded with statistics to go over on the plane ride to Chicago. He has yet to finalize his Opening Day lineup. It’ll be posted Thursday. Three spots are set — Starlin Castro at No. 2, followed by Marlon Byrd and Aramis Ramirez.

Still to be determined is who starts at second base. Rookie Darwin Barney has impressed the team with his defense and could get the nod, Quade said.

* Expect Kosuke Fukudome leading off against most right-handers this year. Quade wasn’t fretting over the outfielder’s .173 average this spring.

“He’s somebody I don’t worry about,” Quade said. “I love his at-bats. I love that he sees a lot of pitches. He’ll hit better than he did down here. He’s always had a pretty good on-base percentage and that’s what you’re looking for in the top spot.”

The Cubs also are counting on Fukudome having another strong April. He has a career .326 average in the first month.

* There is no Lenny Harris or Dave Hansen or Daryl Ward on the Cubs bench this year.

“You hope that whoever has that off day, be it Colvin, be it Fuke, be it Sori, be it DeWitt, be it Baker or Barney, those guys can all contribute swinging the bat,” Quade said. “There can be an art to pinch-hitting. Those guys are versatile as heck, all capable of starting and contributing, so why wouldn’t they be able to handle those pinch-hit roles?”

* Quade’s parents and brother will be in the crowd at Wrigley for Opening Day. He has a lot of friends who want to be there as well.

“It’s going to be a great day for me and I’m glad they’re there but I’m not asking everybody to drop everything and come to the ballpark,” he said. “I hope to be there for a little while so there are other days people can come. It’ll be a nice day for me and nice day for them.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/30 Minor League lineup

Here’s the lineup for the Cubs’ Minor Leaguers who will play Thursday vs the big league squad:

CF Brett Jackson

LF Tony Campana

2B DJ LeMahieu

1B Rebel Ridling

3B Josh Vitters

C Steve Clevenger

SS Marwin Gonzalez

RF Jae-Hoon Ha

DH Kyung-Min Na

As a veteran press box scribe pointed out, can you imagine Ron Santo trying to keep Ha and Na straight. Miss you, Ron.

– Carrie Muskat

3/30 Intrasquad lineup

The Cubs’ MajorLeague team will face some of the Minor Leaguers on Thursday at HoHoKam Park, with first pitch scheduled for 11:05 a.m. Arizona time. The Cubs fly to Chicago after the game and will workout at Wrigley Field on Thursday prior to the season opener Friday against the Pirates. Here’s an early lineup for Thursday’s game:

RF Fukudome

SS Castro

LF Colvin

DH Pena or Soriano (still to be determined)

1B Baker

2B Barney

3B DeWitt

CF Johnson

C Hill

P Wells

– Carrie Muskat

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 255 other followers