2/23 Time for baseball

Travis Wood takes the mound Saturday to kick off the Cubs’ Cactus League season in Tempe against the Angels. The Cubs will play 39 spring games, including an exhibition game March 15 against a World Baseball Classic team. It’s the most Cubs Spring Training games since 1952, which was the first year they trained in Mesa.

Saturday’s game will be broadcast on WGN Radio. Len Kasper is subbing for Pat Hughes for now. Hughes will be in Arizona later this spring.

Wood is the lone lefty candidate among the starters. He was 6-13 with a 4.27 ERA in 26 starts last season with the Cubs. Wood did open at Triple-A, and was 3-3, 4.57 ERA. Other pitchers on the travel squad for Saturday’s game include Jaye Chapman, Rafael Dolis, Zach Putnam, Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon, Trey McNutt, and Hisanori Takahashi. Rondon has been limited to 13 games over the past three seasons because of right elbow injuries. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010. This offseason, he pitched in 23 games in the Venezuela Winter League, going 2-1 with a 4.29 ERA. Rondon appeared in four games in 2012, giving up one earned run over seven innings between Double-A Akron and the Indians Rookie League team.

There are some new faces on the roster with 13 new players on the Cubs’ 40-man since the conclusion of the 2012 season.

The Cubs play at HoHoKam Stadium on Sunday against the defending World Champion Giants. Jeff Samardzija will start for Chicago against Matt Cain.

– Carrie Muskat

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