4/5 Extra bases
* Friday’s game marked the start of a stretch of 19 in a row for the Cubs against teams that finished .500 or above last year. Thirteen of those games are against teams that reached the playoffs, beginning with the Braves. It’s going to be challenging.
“That was last year playoff teams,” Cubs pitcher Matt Garza said. “Things change.”
* Cubs manager Dale Sveum cringed when he saw the replay of Louisville guard Kevin Ware breaking his leg during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. In 1988, Sveum’s career changed after a freak collision with Brewers teammate Darryl Hamilton. Sveum was playing shortstop and chased a pop fly down the third base line, crashing into Hamilton, who was playing left. Sveum broke his left leg, which had to be refractured a year later because it didn’t heal properly. Seeing Ware go down brought back lots of memories for Sveum.
“I felt horrible about it,” Sveum said of Ware, who was expected in Atlanta with his Louisville teammates for the Final Four. “I went through the same thing. It was kind of a freak accident. His was even stranger to come down and do something like that in such a horrific way. It makes you nauseated, that’s for sure. It was one of the more horrible injuries, if not the most horrible injury, we were able to see and witness. Hopefully, he can come back. I don’t know if he can come back from something like that. That was eye opening to day the least.”
Sveum recalled his injury immediately.
“It’s a flashback knowing exactly how much pain you’re in when something like that happens,” he said. “You basically kind of go into shock. It’s something you’ll never forget. I flashback every time [Darwin] Barney or [Starlin] Castro go down this line for a pop up.
“It’s such a trauma incident that you’ll never forget it,” Sveum said.
* There were too many ballplayers on the field during the Braves’ batting practice. The Cubs relievers were doing their normal pre-game routine, but they were in left field while the Braves were hitting. Atlanta general manager Frank Wren asked the players to get off the field, but they didn’t.
“[Wren] came in and asked me a favor, if I could keep the guys off the field, because they were trying to do defensive work,” Sveum said. “Realistically, two teams can’t be on the field at the same time but we all know that at the end of [batting practice], everybody always goes and throws and everybody’s work is done by then. The [batting practice] times got all goofed up. That’s part of why that happened.”
The Cubs pitchers were amused that they were being chased off.
* Hall of Famer Ernie Banks will sing the seventh inning stretch Monday at the Cubs’ home opener. Another Cubs Hall of Famer, Fergie Jenkins, will lead the crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on Tuesday. On Wednesday, members of the 1963 Loyola men’s basketball team, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary of the NCAA championship, will sing, and be followed on Thursday by Blackhawks Hall of Famer goalie Tony Esposito.
* The Braves have done some remodeling in the visitor’s clubhouse. However, they didn’t check the Cubs roster very well. Alberto Gonzalez’s name plate said “Alberto Castillo.”
— Carrie Muskat