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3/5 Cubs vs A’s, Giants results

Manager Joe Maddon’s Cubs debut in Mesa ended in a tie. The Cubs and Athletics played to a 2-2 tie Thursday in front of 11,132 fans at Sloan Park in the manager’s first game. He liked the interaction with the fans during the course of the game

“I thought we played well,” Maddon said. “Oakland pitches well always. That was a typical kind of game you play against the A’s and have to win but we did not get any more hits because they do pitch well. I liked the effort.

“It was just a really nice wonderful first day,” he said.

In the other split squad game, Kyle Schwarber hit a grand slam on his 22nd birthday and Billy McKinney added a solo shot but it wasn’t enough as the Giants rallied for five runs in the eighth to beat the Cubs, 8-6, in a split squad game in Scottsdale. Hunter Cervenka served up four earned runs on four hits and two walks in one-third of an inning to take the loss. Schwarber connected in the second inning off Ryan Vogelsong, while McKinney hit a solo shot in the eighth.

In Mesa, Barry Zito, 36, a non-roster invitee who is attempting a comeback after not pitching last season, retired the first five batters he faced, then hit Chris Coghlan with two outs in the Chicago second to set up Mike Olt’s two-run homer. Ryan Sweeney followed with a single off Zito, who got Junior Lake to ground out and end the inning.

Travis Wood, battling for the fifth starter spot in the Cubs rotation, struck out two of the six batters he faced in his first outing. An All-Star in 2013, Wood scuffled last season, posting an 8-13 record and 5.03 ERA.

“You always learn more when you fail than when you succeed, and I learned a lot last year about how to go about when you fail, picking yourself back up and getting back after it,” Wood said. “That’s what we took into the offseason.”

He heard that Maddon had named four starters and that Wood was not included in the quartet. The news just motivated Wood even more.

“There is [a purpose] — the purpose is to not have a year like last year,” Wood said. “I know I’m a good pitcher and just have to get back to the basics of attacking the zone and trusting your stuff.”

Oakland tallied with one out in the seventh against Donn Roach on Luke Carlin’s RBI single, and tied the game in the eighth on Rangel Ravelo’s one-out RBI double off Francisley Bueno.

The Cubs wore No. 14 caps and had a moment of silence before the game to pay tribute to Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, who died in January.

* Cubs up next: Jon Lester makes his Cubs debut Friday against the Reds at Sloan Park in Mesa. The left-hander, who signed a six-year, $155 million contract, will be matched up with catcher David Ross, who was with him in Boston. No surprise, but Lester will be the Cubs Opening Night starter on April 5. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. CT, and the game can be heard on Cubs.com.

– Carrie Muskat

3/5 Wood pitching with a purpose

Travis Wood, battling for the fifth starter spot in the Cubs rotation, struck out two of the six batters he faced in his first outing on Thursday. An All-Star in 2013, Wood scuffled last season, posting an 8-13 record and 5.03 ERA.

“You always learn more when you fail than when you succeed, and I learned a lot last year about how to go about when you fail, picking yourself back up and getting back after it,” Wood said. “That’s what we took into the offseason.”

He heard that Cubs manager Joe Maddon had named four starters and that Wood was not included in the quartet. The news just motivated Wood even more.

“There is [a purpose] — the purpose is to not have a year like last year,” Wood said. “I know I’m a good pitcher and just have to get back to the basics of attacking the zone and trusting your stuff.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/5 New deals

The Cubs have agreed to contracts with all 20 players on the 40-man roster with zero to three years of Major League service.

The list includes pitchers Dallas Beeler, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm, Kyle Hendricks, Blake Parker, Neil Ramirez, Hector Rondon, Brian Schlitter, Drake Britton, Eric Jokisch, Joe Ortiz and Zac Rosscup.

Also agreeing to contracts were catcher Rafael Lopez, infielders Arismendy Alcantara, Javier Baez, Tommy La Stella, Mike Olt, and Christian Villanueva, and outfielders Junior Lake and Matt Szczur.

– Carrie Muskat

3/5 Need a dog? The Cubs have one

0305Dog

Cubs pitcher Brian Schlitter is hoping someone will adopt a young dog he found near the team’s complex.

Schlitter and his wife, Kara, were walking back to their apartment and saw the dog in the bushes outside of the outfield fences of one of the practice fields. They caught the animal and brought it back to their apartment, where they bathed it and fed it.

But the Schlitters can’t keep him.

“Our first instinct was, we have to keep him, but then reality sets in,” Schlitter said. “We already have a dog.”

The animal they found is a chihuahua and terrier mix, between 2-3 years old. Schlitter called his Cubs teammates but no one could take dog, so they brought it to the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, 2630 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Mesa, AZ, which is next to the Cubs complex.

“It’s a pretty sad sight there and we didn’t want to leave him, but we didn’t have any choice,” Schlitter said. “There are a million dogs dropped off at these control centers and a lot of them are euthanized.”

The dog has a great temperament and got along well with the Schlitters’ pet.

“As soon as we brought him home, he was playing with my dog,” Schlitter said. “We were like, ‘We’ve got to keep him.’ But I said [to my wife], “I have no problem keeping him but you’ll be the one most of the time having to watch him.'”

Anyone interested should contact the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control center.

– Carrie Muskat

3/5 Report: Coke to Cubs

The Cubs have reportedly signed reliever Phil Coke to a Minor League deal. FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reported the news. The Cubs would not confirm.

Coke, 32, spent the last five seasons with the Tigers after pitching for the Yankees in his first two in the Majors. The lefty is 22-27 in his career with a 4.16 ERA and eight saves while pitching primarily out of the back end of the bullpen. He went 5-2 with a 3.88 ERA in 62 appearances last season with Detroit.

3/5 Friday’s Cubs schedule

Here’s Friday’s workout/game schedule:

9:30 a.m. Stretch
9:50 a.m. Base running drills
10 a.m. Catch
10:10 a.m. Bunt defense
10:25 a.m. Position players individual work
10:35 a.m. Batting practice
1:05 p.m. Game

3/5 Cubs starting pitching

Here is the schedule for Cubs starting pitching:

Thursday: Travis Wood vs. Athletics; Jacob Turner vs. Giants
Friday: Jon Lester vs. Reds
Saturday: Jason Hammel vs. Rockies
Sunday: Jake Arrieta vs. Rangers
Monday: Edwin Jackson vs. Padres

3/5 Cubs lineups for Thursday

The Cubs open the Cactus League season with split squad games Thursday. Here are the lineups:

Cubs vs. Athletics in Mesa:
Fowler CF
Rizzo 1B
Castro SS
Montero C
Baez 2B
Coghlan LF
Olt 3B
Sweeney DH
Lake RF

T. Wood P

Other pitchers on schedule: Britton, Bueno, Ramirez, Carter, Roach, Germen.

Cubs vs. Giants in Scottsdale:
La Stella 2B
Denorfia LF
Alcantara CF
Soler RF
Castillo C
Bryant 3B
Schwarber DH
Valaika 1B
Russell SS

Turner P

Other pitchers on schedule: Ortiz, Cervenka, Black, Parker, De Leon, Johnson

3/4 Let the games begin

What will Joe Maddon do as the new Cubs manager? Fans will get their first look when Maddon and the Cubs open Cactus League play Thursday with split squad games, including a home contest at newly named Sloan Park against their new neighbors, the Athletics.

The Cubs also will play the Giants in Scottsdale on Thursday. Travis Wood and Jacob Turner, both vying for a spot in the rotation, will start against the A’s and Giants, respectively. Oakland moved into the Cubs’ former Spring Training Fitch Park complex in Mesa.

For Starlin Castro, Thursday means the first time he’ll be on the field since he sprained his left ankle Sept. 2, ending the 2014 season early.

“I’m ready,” Castro said. “I’m excited because I didn’t finish the season playing and I’ve had a long time that I didn’t play a game. I feel real excited for the first game.”

The Cubs’ lineups were not posted in the clubhouse but Maddon did say Anthony Rizzo would bat second against the Athletics. Rizzo has hit there in five games in his young career, Aug. 21-25, 2013. In his first game in that spot against the Nationals, he went 3-for-4 with two home runs. He followed that with an 0-for-6 game.

Don’t read much into the batting order this spring.

“Honestly, I just want to try guys in different slots, especially in split squad situation, it’s really different,” Maddon said. “You’ll see them in different spots the whole camp.”

Maddon said Dexter Fowler, Starlin Castro, Miguel Montero and Javier Baez would also play in Mesa.

* Thursday’s home opener also marks the beginning of a season of tributes to Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, who passed away in January, one week shy of his 84th birthday. The Cubs will wear a commemorative No. 14 patch on both their home and away jerseys. On Thursday, the Cubs will wear hats with No. 14 on them to honor Mr. Cub for both split squad games.

– Carrie Muskat

3/3 Wednesday’s schedule

For those who like to plan ahead, here’s Wednesday’s Cubs workout schedule. It is shortened because of a golf outing.

9:15 a.m. – Stretch
9:45 a.m. – Throwing program: Pitchers
9:45-10:30 a.m. – Batting practice at stadium, Fields 1/2

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