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#Cubs host Respect Bald event today

Need a haircut? Today’s the day. To raise funds for pediatric cancer research, Cubs manager Joe Maddon and others will have their heads shaved at 11:30 a.m. Arizona time on Field 1 at the Cubs complex.

You can participate in the event by donating $100 to get your head shaved alongside the players. Besides the trim, fans will receive a t-shirt.

The “Respect Bald” event will continue during today’s game at Sloan Park. Fans can participate from 12:30-2 p.m. MT inside the right field gate near the Cubs Store and outside the gates near the Cubs store for anyone who wants to participate but does not have a game ticket. For $50, fans will receive a head shave, a t-shirt, and know they helped support children with cancer.

– Carrie Muskat

Updating #Cubs probables

Sunday: RHP Jason Hammel vs Padres

Monday: Off day

Tuesday: RHP Edwin Jackson at Athletics

Wednesday: LHP Travis Wood at Mariners

Thursday: LHP Jon Lester vs Angels

* The Cubs will play a “B” game Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Mesa at HoHoKam Park against the Athletics, and Kyle Hendricks is scheduled to start.

#Cubs Bryant: I’m playing with a chip on my shoulder

Kris Bryant is making a statement this spring, and that’s exactly what he wants to do.

The Cubs top prospect belted his seventh and eighth spring home runs, most in the Major Leagues, including a two-run shot off Mariners ace Felix Hernandez Saturday. It’s his third two-homer game this spring.

One of the 15,323 fans at Sloan Park sarcastically shouted: “Theo, I don’t think he’s ready yet,” in reference to the debate over Bryant and service time. He was referring to Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, who will make the final decision as to when Bryant will be promoted to the big leagues.

Said Bryant: “I’ve said all along, I’m playing with a chip on my shoulder and at the same time, having fun. You can’t beat baseball right now — the sun shining. Hopefully, we get the win today.”

Which they did. Saturday was Bryant’s 10th Cactus League game. Last year, he appeared in 11 games and went 2-for-18, with two homers. He’s now 12-for-25 with eight home runs and 14 RBIs.

“Last year, I was struggling to get going,” said Bryant, who went on to club 43 homers at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa in 2014. “I got my first spring out of the way last year, and knew what I needed to do this year, and I did that in the offseason. I did what the front office told me and what I needed to work on, and I did that. I couldn’t be more happy with where I am right now.”

The Cubs have maintained that players have to earn the spots on the roster. That’s Bryant’s goal.

“Absolutely — I’m still here, I’m still standing,” he said. “I come out here every day to try to get better at third base. I’m really confident over there and at the box right now. I’m seeing the ball pretty good. I don’t know what else I can say.”

– Carrie Muskat

Final: #Cubs 12, Mariners 10

Kris Bryant hit two home runs for Nos. 7 and 8 this spring, most in the Majors, and Addison Russell and Welington Castillo also homered to lead the Cubs to a 12-10 victory Saturday over the Mariners.

Bryant connected in the first off Mariners ace Felix Hernandez with a runner at second and one out, launching a 2-2 pitch far back onto the left field berm. It was the first home run off Hernandez this spring. Bryant launched No. 8 with two on and one out in the fourth off Kevin Correia.

After the Mariners tied the game in the third, Anthony Rizzo hit a go-ahead RBI double with two outs in the Cubs third and then tallied on Russell’s homer, his first this spring, which chased Hernandez. Castillo, who hit a RBI double in the second, added a solo shot leading off the fourth.

The Cubs rank among the Major League leaders with 28 homers this spring.

Cubs up next: Jason Hammel will make his fourth spring start on Sunday as the Cubs play host to the Padres at Sloan Park in Mesa. Expect to see plenty of clean shaven Cubs, including manager Joe Maddon as they take part in “Respect Bald” event to raise money in the battle against pediatric cancer. Maddon and others will have their heads shaved at 1:30 p.m. CT on Field 1 at the Cubs complex. Fans can participate by donating $100 to get their heads shaved alongside the players. Besides the trim, fans will receive a t-shirt. Sunday’s game will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet and WBBM Radio, starting at 3:05 p.m. CT.

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Bryant belts 7th spring HR

The Cubs may still be deciding whether Kris Bryant is ready for the Major Leagues but the fans know what they want. The Cubs top prospect belted his seventh spring home run, most in the Major Leagues, off the Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in the first inning on Saturday.

A fan at Sloan Park sarcastically shouted: “Theo, I don’t think he’s ready yet,” in reference to the debate over service time. Theo, as Cubs fans know, is Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, who will make the final decision as to when Bryant will be promoted to the big leagues.

With a runner at second and one out in the Chicago first, Bryant, starting at third base for the first time since March 12, launched a 2-2 pitch far back onto the left field berm.

Bryant had been sidelined with fatigue in his right shoulder, but that hasn’t stopped him from hitting. One week ago, he belted two home runs in Las Vegas against the Athletics. He also hit another in a “B” game on Thursday, but that one doesn’t count in the spring statistics.

Manager Joe Maddon said they would keep track of how many throws Bryant makes Saturday to avoid over-working the shoulder, Through three innings, he had made three throws to first and another to second, and was very deliberate.

– Carrie Muskat

Castro scratched from #Cubs lineup

Starlin Castro was scratched from the Cubs’ lineup Saturday because of a tight right groin. His status is day to day. Castro was batting .231 this spring. He was to be replaced in the lineup by Addison Russell.

— Carrie Muskat

Leading off: Baez bats No. 1 for #Cubs

Joe Maddon decided to experiment with the lineup Saturday and inserted Javier Baez in the leadoff spot. It’s not the first time Maddon has done that with a player who would not appear to be best suited to getting on base. In 1985, he had Kevin King, an outfielder who was a Mariners’ Draft pick, and decided to insert him into the leadoff spot. King had seven homers in the first half but when switched in the lineup, he finished with 30 homers and batted .301.

“I said, ‘What can I do with this guy?’ I put him in the leadoff spot, and I said, ‘all I want you to do is hit ground balls up the middle,'” Maddon said. “[King] ended up with 30 home runs and hit .300. You don’t always expect those results, and of course, we won’t do that with Javy the whole time, but I did it with [Evan Longoria] and different guys who have been struggling. It gives them a different mindset and a lot of times it works.”

– Carrie Muskat

Good news for #Cubs: Lester says nothing to worry about

Cubs pitcher Jon Lester, who was scratched from Saturday’s start because of a tired arm, said the problem is nothing to be concerned about, and he expects to pitch Opening Night.

Lester had been slated to face the Mariners on Saturday at Sloan Park in Mesa.

“It’s something we all go through,” Lester said Saturday. “Usually mine is either a little bit early or later [in spring]. I’m sure Joe [Maddon] said if this was during the season, it wouldn’t be an issue. Since we have time, we have the opportunity to set back and let it be for a start and kind of get back to normal. We decided to use that option.

“You can ask every pitcher, it’s an every year thing for everybody. It’s nothing out of the ordinary.”

Lester said he’s experienced this in the past during Spring Training. There is no pain or discomfort.

“It’s one of those things that you have to go through to understand,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like anything. It’s more total body deadness and everybody puts a label on it as far as ‘dead arm.’ It’s nothing to be alarmed about. There’s no point in trying to grind through it right now. These games don’t mean anything. If it was April 15, it wouldn’t be an issue.”

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs lineup vs Mariners 3/21

Kris Bryant is back in the lineup Saturday for the Cubs game against the Mariners. Eric Jokisch will start in place of Jon Lester, who was scratched because of a tired right arm. Manager Joe Maddon says he’s not concerned about Lester’s arm, saying the lefty should be ready for Opening Day. Here’s the lineup:

Baez 2B

Fowler CF

Bryant 3B

Soler RF

Rizzo 1B

Castro SS

Coghlan LF

Castillo C

Jokisch P

#Cubs charity events Saturday/Sunday

* The Cubs’ wives will host their annual garage sale and mystery ball event in center field on Saturday at Sloan Park in Mesa, Ariz., from the start of the game through the second inning, or while supplies last. Fans can purchase baseballs autographed by players for $35. All proceeds will benefit Paz De Cristo in Mesa.

* On Sunday, Cubs manager Joe Maddon will host the “Respect Bald” event with some of the players to raise money in the battle against pediatric cancer. Maddon and others will have their heads shaved at 11:30 a.m. MT on Field 1 at the Cubs complex. A select number of fans can participate in the event by donating $100 to get their heads shaved alongside the players. Besides the trim, fans will receive a t-shirt.

The “Respect Bald” event will continue during Sunday’s game at Sloan Park. Fans can participate from 12:30-2 p.m. MT inside the right field gate near the Cubs Store and outside the gates near the Cubs store for anyone who wants to participate but does not have a game ticket. For $50, fans will receive a head shave, a t-shirt, and know they helped support children with cancer.

– Carrie Muskat

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