The Cubs are moving up the start of the 2015 season. The Cubs and ESPN announced that the 2015 opener at Wrigley Field will be played Sunday, April 5, to accommodate Major League Baseball’s Opening Night and an exclusive national television broadcast. The game versus the Cardinals now will start at 7:05 p.m. CT and air on ESPN2. This will mark the first Opening Night in Wrigley Field history.
Due to the shift, the Cubs-Cardinals opening series will be as follows:
Sunday, April 5: 7:05 p.m. vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Monday, April 6: OFF DAY
Tuesday, April 7: 7:05 p.m. vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Wednesday, April 8: 1:20 p.m. vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Thursday, April 9: OFF DAY
– Carrie Muskat
Cubs pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada gave up two runs on two hits and one walk in 1 2/3 innings pitching for the MLB All-Stars in an 8-4 loss to Samurai Japan on Friday. Wada served up Japan’s first home run of the series, a solo shot in the eighth by Nobuhiro Matsuda. There were 42,277 fans at the Tokyo Dome for Friday’s game. The MLB team has been outscored, 17-12, in the three games.
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo finished 10th in the balloting for National League Most Valuable Player, determined by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw won the MVP award, announced Thursday. Rizzo received one sixth-place vote, four seventh-place votes, two eighth-place votes, three ninth-place votes, and four 10th-place votes for a total of 37 points.
It’s the most points by a Cubs player in MVP balloting since Derrek Lee finished ninth in 2009, receiving 66 points. In 2012, Alfonso Soriano finished 20th (eight points) and Starlin Castro was 23rd in 2011 (one point).
Rizzo, 25, led the Cubs this season with a career-high 32 home runs and 78 RBIs, batting .286 in 140 games.
– Carrie Muskat
Dan Vogelbach hit a RBI double in the fifth inning Thursday but it wasn’t enough as the Mesa Solar Sox ended their season with a 4-4, 11-inning tie with Glendale at Cubs Park. Vogelbach ended the game when he lined out in the 11th, leaving the bases loaded. He finished with a .261 average. Jacob Hannemann also started, and went 0-for-5 and finished with a .279 average. The Solar Sox finished 15-14-2 in the East division. Salt River and Peoria will square off Saturday for the AFL championship.
According to reports, free agent pitcher Jon Lester will meet with Cubs officials next week. Lester’s agents have prepared a 200-plus page full color portfolio on the pitcher, along with a three-minute video. It features his charity work as well as his efforts on the field. Lester’s agent, Seth Levinson, met with Cubs officials as well as others, including Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, during the GM meetings in Phoenix. That’s standard procedure — agents touch base with all teams interested in their clients. But the bidding for Lester most likely will come down to the Cubs vs. Red Sox, who would like Lester to come back.
Just don’t expect the Cubs to sign Lester and Max Scherzer and James Shields to mega deals.
“It’s hard to acquire pitching. Period,” Theo Epstein said Wednesday in Phoenix. “It’s hard to acquire top-of-the-rotation pitching. I’ve seen us linked. People predict that we’re going to sign two top-of-the-rotation starters who both require nine-figure contracts. That’s not happening.
“Look at the history of nine-figure starting pitching contracts, and it’s a huge risk,” Epstein said. “So, to put an organization in the position to have two such deals immediately in the course of the same offseason, I couldn’t imagine something like that occurring.”
Super agent Scott Boras held court in Phoenix on Wednesday during the GM meetings. Here are a couple of his Cub-related comments, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune and Comcast SportsNet Chicago reporters on site.
* On new Cubs manager Joe Maddon:
“I told Joe Maddon I want him to be my financial advisor,” Boras said. “He’s the only guy I know that goes on a vacation and while in his RV [he] makes $20 million. Yeah, they are making moves that are designed to help the team be competitive.”
* On his client, Kris Bryant, the Minor League player of the year after hitting 43 home runs in the Cubs Minor Leagues.
“Certainly [the Cubs] have made the statement,” Boras said. “‘We’re going to win a division’ is what I heard. And I know a guy that has 42 reasons why he can help you do that.”
* On the Cubs:
“If any fan base in Chicago deserves a ‘now’ and not a ‘tomorrow,’ I’d say it’s the Chicago Cubs,” Boras said.
Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta received three fifth-place votes in National League Cy Young voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Arrieta was tied with the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel and the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg for ninth place. The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw was a unanimous winner.
You can join Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo on Sunday at his third annual “Walk Off for Cancer” in Parkland, Fla. The event will take place at Pine Trails Park, and consists of a 5K walk, entertainment, refreshments, raffle prizes and guest appearances. The event, which begins at 8:30 a.m. ET, is family friendly. Registration is $30 per person until Saturday, and limited to 1,000 people. The event has raised more than $100,000 each of its first two years.
Can’t make it? You can still participate by making a donation at http://www.rizzo44.com
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs continued to stockpile pitchers, and claimed right-hander Donn Roach off waivers from the Padres on Wednesday. With the move, the Cubs’ 40-man roster is now at 38 players. Roach, who turns 25 on Dec. 14, was 1-0 with a 4.75 ERA in 16 appearances with the Padres last season, his first year in the big leagues. He was the Angels’ third-round pick in the 2010 First Year Player Draft, and traded to the Padres in May 2012 along with Alexi Amarista for Ernesto Frieri.
Roach was on the Padres’ Opening Day roster this year after making 28 starts at Double-A San Antonio in 2013, but was optioned to Triple-A El Paso on June 3. He went 4-6 with a 5.24 ERA in 19 games (13 starts) in the Minors this year. Overall, Roach is 32-26 with two saves and a 3.73 ERA in 126 Minor League appearances, including 67 starts, covering five professional seasons.
– Carrie Muskat
Dan Vogelbach had two hits but it wasn’t enough as Mesa lost, 5-1, to Surprise Tuesday in Arizona Fall League play. Jacob Hannemann went 0-for-4. On Wednesday, the Solar Sox play host to the Javelinas with C.J. Edwards making his final start. Mesa then closes the AFL season Thursday with a game at Cubs Park against the Desert Dogs.