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#Cubs Castro: “I feel 100 percent”

Starlin Castro was back in the lineup Wednesday after missing five days because of tightness in his right groin and the Cubs shortstop is eager to play 162 games this season.

Castro, who turned 25 on Tuesday, has not played since March 19 in a game against the Diamondbacks when he made a fielding error that led to two runs. He admitted Wednesday that he hadn’t been feeling good on the field.

“I lost a little bit of confidence those couple days, and I worked on my defense,” Castro said. “[Tuesday], I took some extra ground balls and started feeling better.

“I didn’t feel really good out there on defense,” he said of the game last week. “It’s not a big deal.”

One of his goals is to play all 162 games, but Castro didn’t think he needed to say anything to manager Joe Maddon about that.

“Not yet, but I think they know,” Castro said. “They know I want to play that, I want to be there every day. It doesn’t matter if today is a bad game, tomorrow’s a bad game, I don’t care. I’m here, trying to grow up every day and try to be a better player.”

He’s also looking forward to the start of the regular season, even if Wrigley Field won’t quite be ready.

“We’re feeling pretty good we’re starting a new season with new people here,” Castro said. “I think it’ll be really exciting. We don’t have bleachers but it doesn’t matter. We’ll have a new scoreboard — I think it’s going to be really happy.”

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs lineup vs Mariners, Wed 3/25

Starlin Castro is back in the Cubs lineup Wednesday for a night game against the Mariners in Peoria, Ariz. Travis Wood gets the start and will bat eighth. Castro was sidelined because of tightness in his right groin. Here’s the lineup:

Fowler CF

Coghlan LF

Montero C

Castro SS

Sweeney RF

La Stella 3B

Olt 1B

Wood P

Alcantara 2B

– Carrie Muskat

Congrats to #Cubs Kane Co champs

The Cubs presented championship rings Tuesday to members of the Kane County team, which won the 2014 Midwest League championship. Congrats!0324Kane

Final Athletics 14, #Cubs 2

The A’s collected 18 hits off seven Chicago pitchers to beat the Cubs, 14-2, on Tuesday at HoHoKam Stadium. Kris Bryant hit his Major League-leading ninth home run, a solo shot with one out in the Chicago third. The Cubs other run came on Jorge Soler’s RBI single in the first. Edwin Jackson, who did not start because he got lost, gave up eight runs on nine hits over 1 2/3 innings.

Up next: Travis Wood, battling for the final spot in the rotation, will make his fifth spring start on Wednesday when the Cubs travel to Peoria to face the Mariners in a night game. Wood has served up 21 hits over 14 1/3 innings in his four previous starts but walked one. Starlin Castro was expected back in the lineup. He’s been sidelined with a tight right groin. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. MT and the game will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet and Cubs.com.

#Cubs Jackson: “It’s a crazy way to start a day”

Apparently, Google Maps hasn’t updated the Spring Training locations in Arizona. On Tuesday, Edwin Jackson used the app for directions to HoHoKam Stadium where he was scheduled to start. Trouble is, it sent him to their old home, Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

“I put in Google Maps and typed in ‘Oakland Athletics Spring Training complex,’ and it took me to the old one,” Jackson said. “I know it’s crazy, but that pretty much sums it up.”

The Cubs complex and HoHoKam are about 3.6 miles apart, but it was a much longer drive for Jackson, who did arrive at HoHoKam at 12:40 p.m. MT. The Cubs staff didn’t want him to rush for the 1:05 p.m. MT start against the Athletics, so Blake Parker made a substitute start.

Jackson took over in the second, but the A’s seemed to have no problem tracking his pitches, collecting eight runs on nine hits over 1 2/3 innings. Jackson said he could take some positives from the outing — he didn’t walk anyone and he felt strong.

“They hit some good pitches,” Jackson said. “You have those days when they hit the ball. There were a lot of times I was ahead in the count and just didn’t put them away.”

Jackson served up back to back doubles in the A’s second, and retired the first two batters in the third but then Oakland rattled off seven straight hits, including a two-run homer by Stephen Vogt.

What makes Jackson’s misdirection even crazier is that HoHoKam was the Cubs’ old spring home. Google Maps didn’t fail him when he used it March 14 to find Maryvale for a game against the Brewers. In fact, he said it’s the first time in 12 years he’s gotten lost trying to get to a ballpark.

“At the end of the day, it’s my fault for not looking to see where they’re at,” he said. “I figured type in the Spring Training complex and the right address would come up, but it didn’t.

“It was a crazy way to start a day, I guess,” he said. “If I Google any other facility it probably doesn’t happen. So be it. That was the luck of the draw.”

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Lester to start Thursday in Minor League game

Jon Lester’s next start will be in a Minor League game on Thursday so the Cubs can control his pitch count.

Lester, scratched from a start last Saturday because of a tired arm, had a side session on Monday.

“We want to be able to control the number of pitches,” manager Joe Maddon said of why they want Lester in the Minor League game and not the Cubs scheduled Cactus League game that night against the Angels. “If he’s having a long inning, then we can flip it over and get him into the dugout. It’s just more of a controlled environment. He’s fine, we want to be able to control it.”

Lester was expected to throw 60 pitches Thursday.

“I’m not concerned who he’s pitching against, just so he’s standing up there and gets the requisite number of pitches thrown,” Maddon said of his Opening Night starter. “If he says he feels good, I feel good.”

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Bryant belts home run No. 9

Another day, another home run for Kris Bryant.

The Cubs top prospect belted his ninth spring home run in the third inning Tuesday against the Athletics, connecting on the first pitch from Drew Pomerantz, who had struck out Bryant in the first.

Bryant leads the Major Leagues this spring in homers. His Cubs teammates wouldn’t mind seeing that pop in the Opening Day lineup. However, the Cubs could have Bryant open the season at Triple-A Iowa to avoid starting the service time clock.

“There’s not much any of us can do anymore,” Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo said Tuesday. “It is what it is. He’s a great kid. That’s really all you can keep saying.”

Bryant did some outfield drills on Tuesday and will likely play there in the next couple days, manager Joe Maddon said.

“[We wanted to] get him back out there and reacquainted,” Maddon said. “He knows how to do it.”

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs Jackson late start

Blame traffic for Edwin Jackson’s late start. The right-hander did not start Tuesday’s game against the A’s because he got stuck in traffic driving from the Cubs complex to HoHoKam Park. Blake Parker started in place of Jackson.

No home runs? No problem for #Cubs Rizzo

The Cubs rank second in the Majors this spring in home runs but Anthony Rizzo, who led the team last year with 32, has zero, and yet he feels really good at the plate.

“I feel great,” Rizzo said Monday. “It’s really weird. I hit some good balls but they haven’t found a hole.”

In 12 games prior to Tuesday’s contest against the Athletics, Rizzo was 4-for-31. Last spring, he batted .321 with two home runs in 53 at-bats.

“Overall, I feel like I’m having really good at-bats,” said Rizzo, who is working with his third hitting coach in as many years in John Mallee. “We’ve had a good relationship so far and it’s really easy to go in the cage every day.”

But no home runs? Matt Szczur, who hit one in 116 games at Triple-A Iowa last year, has taken advantage of the desert air and hit three this spring.

“I haven’t hit a homer in two years in Spring Training,” Rizzo said, apparently forgetting the pair he hit last year. “It’s just not in my cards. All I care about is I’m seeing the ball real well.”

– Carrie Muskat

#Cubs lineups for Tuesday 3/24

The Cubs will play two games on Tuesday, beginning with a “B” game at Sloan Park in Mesa against the Diamondbacks. The game is open to the public. Then, Edwin Jackson and the rest of the squad faces the A’s at HoHoKam Park in Mesa. Here are the lineups:

* B Game vs Diamondbacks

Alcantara LF

Szczur CF

Olt 3B

Ross C

Baxter 1B

Bruno 2B

Herrera SS

Silva RF

Hendricks P

* Cubs vs. Athletics

Fowler CF

Lake LF

Soler RF

Rizzo 1B

Bryant 3B

Montero C

Baez 2B

Russell SS

Jackson P

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