4/4 It’s almost Opening Day

Dale Sveum’s first Opening Day as a player was April 6, 1987, and 25 years later, he’ll experience the same butterflies and excitement he did on that day when he takes the field as the Cubs manager for the start of the regular season.

“There’s nothing like Opening Day as a player,” Sveum said. “It’ll be special.”

He got to Wrigley Field on Wednesday’s workout day around 8 a.m. for the afternoon session. The sun was out but it was much chillier than it had been in Mesa, Ariz., all spring. Sveum is hoping the Cubs can continue to play as they did in Cactus League games.

“We probably could say we were one of the few teams, if the only team, that went through all Spring Training and ran out 99 percent of the balls,” Sveum said. “As spring kept going on, the preparation of the defensive work was exceptional and the buying into some of the positioning stuff we’re going to do [was well received]. Just the constant effort and preparation is what you want to see on an every day basis. That’s all you can ask for. They’re Major League players, they’ve had success in the big leagues. Some of them are stil trying to prove themselves, some of the guys are trying to rebound from sub-par seasons. We’re trying to make sure everybody’s on the same page as far as effort, that’s all you’re looking for.”

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer saw the same positive atmosphere in camp. This will be Hoyer’s first Opening Day with the Cubs as well after being lured to the team by Theo Epstein after he was named president of baseball operations.

“Just looking around, it looks so much different here in the spring than it does in the winter,” Hoyer said of Wrigley Field. “The whole place is fantastic. It’s such a magical place, a place I loved coming here as a visitor. It’s the first time it feels real and I’m sure it’ll be more so tomorrow. I get to watch 81 games here and that’ll be pretty special.”

— Carrie Muskat

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