4/1 Extra bases

* The first game was a good day for Anthony Rizzo, who was razzed by his teammates this spring for the lack of home runs.

“Guys were calling me ‘Campana,'” he said, referring to former Cubs outfielder Tony Campana, known for his speed, not his power. “You don’t try to hit home runs but you get guys chirping at you, and it’s nice to get it out of the way and just win.”

With one out in the Cubs’ first, Starlin Castro singled and Rizzo sent A.J. Burnett’s first pitch 438 feet to right-center, the ball landing behind the bleacher seats. Rizzo was one of six Cubs making their first Opening Day starts, and knows the importance of getting off to a good start.

“It’s one-game playoffs every day for 162-plus [games], hopefully, and we just have to play hard,” Rizzo said. “Everyone has to have each other’s back. I think when everyone gets each other’s back, everyone will get emotional and the emotion will carry us all year.”

* Jeff Samardzija gave up two hits over eight innings on Opening Day Monday. Of the 100 Cubs Opening Day games since 1914, the only Chicago pitcher to go at least eight innings and give up two or fewer hits in the season opener was Lon Warneke on April 17, 1934. Warneke threw a complete game, one-hit shutout that day in a 6-0 win over the Reds.

According to baseball historian Ed Hartig, there were four Opening Days when a Cubs starter threw at least eight scoreless innings: April 12, 1933 (Warneke); April 17, 1934 (Warneke); April 19, 1944 (Hank Wyse); and April 9, 1974 (Bill Bonham).

* Japanese right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa picked up a save in his first appearance with the Cubs, and is the first pitcher to do so with the team since Todd Wellemeyer on May 15, 2003.

* The Triple-A Iowa Cubs will have 18 players with Major League experience on their roster. Lefties Chris Rusin and Brooks Raley return to the rotation. Rusin led the Iowa team in wins (8), starts (25), and strikeouts (94) last year, and will start the season opener Thursday Albuquerque. Right-handers Drew Carpenter, Barret Loux, and Nick Struck round out the starting rotation.

— Carrie Muskat


I am liking the AAA pitching. Rusin, who looked very good in ST, Struck, Loux and Carpenter. Loux had a heck of a year in the Rangers AA system last year, hopefully he continues to develop. Struck has opened eyes as he moves up the ladder. Rusin kind of got thrown into the rotation last year after the trades of Dempster and Maholm. He did not do great, but held his own and helped the Cubs get through the year. Then he had a very good ST.

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