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Coghlan scratched; Szczur starting in LF for #Cubs

Chris Coghlan was scratched from the Cubs lineup Wednesday because of a stiff neck. Here’s the new lineup:

Fowler CF

Soler RF

Rizzo 1B

Castro SS

Montero C

Szczur LF

Alcantara 3B

Hammel P

La Stella 2B

#Cubs lineup vs Brewers, Wed 4/1

Jason Hammel starts Wednesday in the Cubs final spring game at Sloan Park in Mesa. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Arizona time. The game will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet and Cubs.com. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Coghlan LF

Soler RF

Rizzo 1B

Castro SS

Montero C

Alcantara 3B

Hammel P

La Stella 2B

Bryant, Baez, Russell play for #Cubs Iowa team today

Want to see Kris Bryant, Javy Baez and Addison Russell? The Cubs Triple-A Iowa squad plays at 1 p.m. today on Field 6 at the Cubs Complex. Here’s the lineup:
Russell SS
Baez 2B
Bryant 3B
Valaika 1B
Lopez C
Silva CF
Chambers RF
Chen LF
Loux P

#Cubs honor Ernie, offer Maddon “Hoagie” at Wrigley

Are you looking forward to the start of the Cubs season? The first homestand against the Cardinals will kick off a season of tributes to Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, who passed away in January.

* On Sunday, the Cubs play host to the Cardinals at 7:05 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field. The bleachers will not be ready but the video scoreboard in left field is expected to be operating. Banks’ two sons, Joey and Jerry, will throw out the game’s ceremonial first pitches Sunday night and lead the seventh-inning stretch. The Cubs will wear a commemorative No. 14 patch on both the home and away jerseys. The bases used on Opening Night will be adorned with Ernie Banks tribute base
jewels. The game-used bases and jerseys will be available for purchase through Cubs Authentics with proceeds benefiting Cubs Charities.

Each fan attending Opening Night will receive a commemorative No. 14 pin in Banks’ honor.

The rock band, Fall Out Boy, will headline MLB Opening Night’s first live musical performance as part of pregame festivities. Fall Out Boy will perform three songs live on the field. Gates will open at 4:35 p.m. CT so fans can see the show.

The first 30,000 fans entering the ballpark will receive a Cubs Magnet Schedule presented by Giordano’s.

* On Tuesday, the first 30,000 adults age 21-and-older will receive a Cubs Magnet Schedule presented by Jack
Daniel’s. Members of the popular Chicago-based ‘60s band, The Buckinghams, will sing the National Anthem, while the
Lombard, Illinois-native band Plain White T’s will lead the seventh inning stretch.

* On Wednesday, April 8, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kristian Bush from Sugarland will throw a first pitch
and lead the seventh inning stretch. After the game, Cubs players, coaches, alumni, owners, management and fans will head to Union Station for Cubs Charities’ primary fundraising event, the annual Bricks and Ivy Ball.

Tickets are available for the three-game homestand and the Bricks and Ivy Ball at http://www.cubs.com or 800-THE-CUBS
(800-843-2827).

* Levy Restaurants will introduce Chicago-style dishes and new offerings this year, including a Joe Maddon Italian Hoagie sandwich. The sandwich is a time-honored recipe straight from the skipper’s family vault, featuring ham, salami, white American cheese, crisp lettuce, sliced tomatoes, spicy peppers and olive oil, served on fresh hoagie roll.

Final #Cubs 15, Rangers 10

Matt Szczur hit a two-run homer, his fifth spring blast, in the Cubs’ 15-10 come from behind victory over the Rangers split squad team in Surprise, Ariz., on Tuesday. Jorge Soler hit a two-run single in the fifth, and Wes Darvill added a two-run homer in the seventh. Eric Jokisch started, and served up seven runson 10 hits over 3 1/3 innings.

The Cubs trailed, 9-7, in the ninth, and rallied for five runs against Kyuji Fujikawa, including a two-run triple by Wilson Contreras. Chicago totaled eight runs in the ninth.

* Cubs Up next: The Cubs play their final game of the spring at Sloan Park on Wednesday, playing host to the Brewers. Jason Hammel gets the start, his final tune-up before the regular season. Hammel has been in control since the right-hander had a side session and threw 42 fastballs. The key for him is fastball command. The game will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet and also Cubs.com, starting at 3:05 p.m. CT.

What can #Cubs fans expect at Wrigley Field? Here’s an update

Cubs officials gave an update Tuesday regarding Wrigley Field, saying the ballpark will be ready for Opening Night even if the bleachers are not. The Cubs began the renovation project of the 100-year-old ballpark this past offseason. The left field and center field bleachers are expected to be open by May 11, and the right field bleachers will be ready for fans in mid June.

On Sunday, the video scoreboard in left field will be operating. The right field video board will not be functioning until the All-Star break.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green spent time Tuesday debunking some rumors about the work being done. Green said “at no time has Major League Baseball intervened in our construction project. They are not concerned, mad or disappointed in the team or the pace of construction. They have been supportive in our efforts.”

There were no discussions with the White Sox about playing the Cubs home opener at U.S. Cellular Field, Green said. He said rumors that the upper deck and grandstand are not safe are “absolutely false and simply reckless.”

“This has been most disturbing and reaching an all-time low for our Wrigley Field rumors and myths,” Green said.

Some other items to note:

* The outfield walls are intact and the ivy is attached, but there will be gaps in the greenery. The ivy was expected to be back in full bloom by mid summer.

* Work will continue throughout the season west of Wrigley Field along Clark Street as construction continues on the new clubhouse and plaza area.

* Fans are encouraged to use public transportation when going to games at Wrigley Field because of the construction work. The Red and Purple lots are no longer available. The Cubs do offer free remote parking at 3900 North Rockwell and have free shuttle transportation. The Blue and Brown lots also will not be available.

* The bike check service will continue north of The Cubs Store on the west side of Clark Street.

* Pedestrian access will change. The access on Clark Street near Wrigley will be limited to one lane of traffic in each direction, and pedestrian access will only be on the west side of the street. Waveland Avenue from Clark to Sheffield will remain closed to traffic. There will be pedestrian access on the north side of Waveland only. Sheffield will be closed to traffic. Pedestrian access will be on the east side.

* Group and public buses will be affected. Group charter and coach buses will unload and pick up on Irving Park Road. CTA will provide the same level of service at the same drop off and pickup points.

* On Sunday, “Fall Out Boy” will perform three songs on the field. Because of the pre-game performance, the gates at Wrigley will open at 4:35 p.m. CT. That is for Opening Night only. All gates will be available on Opening Night.

* All ticket windows at Wrigley Field will be open Sunday and the rest of the season. The Cubs will no longer sell tickets at The Cubs Store.

* Wi-Fi/Cell service: Cell service will be available in the ballpark in 2015. The Cubs hope all providers finish their installation by Sunday. However, Wi-Fi has been a challenge at Wrigley, and the system will be down for the majority of 2015.

* Statues: The Ernie Banks and Ron Santo statues will be in place by Opening Night. The Harry Caray statue, which was near the bleachers, will not return for the 2015 season. It is part of the ongoing construction.

* Brick pavers: The Cubs say they will relocate the pavers to the area outside the bleachers on Sheffield and Waveland. All will be replaced, and in place by Opening Day 2016. Fans who have purchased the pavers will get information regarding specific locations.

#Cubs Lester on Bryant: “He’ll be with us at some point”

Jon Lester would like to have had Kris Bryant in the lineup on Opening Night but the Cubs starter also understands why the top prospect is not going to be at Wrigley Field.

“As a player, it [stinks],” Lester said Tuesday about the Cubs decision to assign Bryant to the Minor League camp after he led the Major Leagues with nine home runs and batted .425 this spring.

“It took me a while to understand it when I was coming up, but the quicker you learn this game is a business, the better off you are,” Lester said. “They can say, ‘Development, deveopment’ all they want. This game’s a business and it comes down to that.”

The Cubs front office did say the need for more development was a reason for Bryant to open at Triple-A Iowa. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has stressed it was not a business decision, but having Bryant in the Minor Leagues also delays the start of the third baseman’s service time.

“I’m sure Kris has handled it very, very well,” Lester said of the decision, announced Monday. “He’s a good kid and he’ll be with us at some point. We’ve all been there. He’s just a little more high profile than the rest of us were coming up.”

Lester will make his Cubs debut Sunday night when they play host to the Cardinals at Wrigley Field. No knock on third baseman Mike Olt, but Lester wouldn’t mind having Bryant in the lineup.

“You want anybody who’s swinging the bat like he is, but at the same time, we all understand what’s going on,” Lester said. “A lot of these guys went through the same situation, but we weren’t Kris Bryant and we weren’t hitting nine homers in Spring Training.

“We’ve all had that conversation and at the end of the day, when you sit back and look at it, you say, ‘I get it,'” he said. “He’ll be with us at some point hitting homers. It’s just a fun topic for everybody to talk about right now.”

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Lester tunes up for Opening Night

Jon Lester wasn’t too pleased with his final tune up for Opening Night but the Cubs left-hander said he hopes the excitement of the start of the season can help him.

“I wasn’t the sharpest today but got to where we needed to,” Lester said after throwing 84 pitches over six innings in a game between Triple-A Iowa and Double-A Tennessee at the Cubs complex. “Once we get into a game with some fans and some adrenaline, I think things will sharpen up a little bit.”

Lester started three Cactus League games and then was scratched from his March 21 game because of a tired arm.

“We’ll figure it out,” Lester said. “In this game, there’s always things you have to overcome, and this is part of it. Come Sunday, everything will be fine. We’ll go out there and have a game plan.”

Lester struck out four of the 20 batters he faced. He had a tough time with left-handed hitting Bijan Rademacher, who battled Lester in a 12-pitch at-bat that ended with left fielder Jae-Hoon Ha making a running catch of a foul ball.

This was Lester’s first Spring Training in Arizona, and the only downside was that he couldn’t fish as much as he did in Florida.

“It’s been good for my family, it’s been an easy adjustment,” he said. “We’ve kind of scoped out some areas for the next couple years that we want to gravitate toward. It was a pretty seamless transition.”

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Lester throws 84 pitches in Minor League game

Jon Lester tuned up for Opening Night by throwing 84 pitches in a MInor League game Tuesday in Mesa. Lester struck out four of the 20 batters faced. Bijan Rademacher gave him a hard time in the fourth with a 12-pitch at-bat.

Lester started three Cactus League games and then was scratched from his March 21 start because of a tired arm. The lefty has made two Minor League starts since then to prepare for Sunday’s season opener against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs to honor Ernie on Opening Night

The Cubs will honor Hall of Famer Ernie Banks in pregame ceremonies Sunday before the first regular season
when they play host to the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.

Banks’ two sons, Joey and Jerry, will throw out ceremonial first pitches and lead the crowd in the seventh-inning stretch.
The Cubs are wearing commemorative No. 14 patches on both the home and away jerseys this season, and the bases used on Opening Night will be adorned with Ernie Banks tribute base jewels.

Each fan attending Opening Night will receive a commemorative No. 14 pin. Banks passed away in January at the age of 83.

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