4/3 Junior’s jersey


Apparently, Junior Lake simply grabbed the wrong gray jersey from his locker and didn’t notice he was the only one wearing it. Reliever Justin Grimm noticed and yelled at Lake from the bullpen. Lake then went and changed.

“[Grimm] said, ‘Hey, you got the wrong jersey,’ and I looked,” Lake said. “I thought he was joking. When I looked, I saw everybody [wearing the other jersey], I said, ‘[Darn].’ I said, ‘What the [heck] is going on?”

The clubhouse staff normally hang that day’s game jersey in an obvious spot in the locker.

“I see two gray, and I took one,” Lake said. “Everybody was in gray, and I took the wrong gray.”

– Carrie Muskat

4/3 Opening Day

The Cubs play their home opener on Friday at Wrigley Field, facing the Phillies.

“Opening Day at Wrigley is always special,” second baseman Darwin Barney said. “You have Bill Murray running around the bases – that’s something you don’t see anywhere else. They probably don’t allow it anywhere else. There’s always something memorable there. You can almost see the whole season ahead of you in the ivy. You’re waiting for it to turn green. It was a little warmer last year and it was a little spotty green early. This year, I have a feeling it’ll be really dark.”

Wrigley was buried under a record snowfall this winter, however, the snow will be gone by Friday’s first pitch.

“I think we’re all looking forward to going home,” Barney said.

Murray, by the way, was to throw a ceremonial first pitch on April 5, 2012, and took advantage of the moment, and sprinted around the bases.

– Carrie Muskat

4/3 Cubs lineup and more

The Cubs got a quick wake up call for Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates at PNC Park. In case you didn’t stay awake, the Cubs lost, 4-3, in 16 innings on Wednesday night in a game that took 5 hours 55 minutes, and ended early Thursday.

Here’s the lineup:

Bonifacio CF
Castro SS
Ruggiano RF
Rizzo 1B
Lake LF
Olt 3B
Barney 2B
Baker C
Hammel P

* As of now, Carlos Villanueva is scheduled to start Sunday for the Cubs against the Phillies. Rick Renteria and pitching coach Chris Bosio will discuss their options on the flight home and on Friday in Chicago.

* Renteria moved Castro to the No. 2 spot in the order to try and ease some “anxiousness” that he noticed.

* Renteria was wide awake Thursday.

“It’s deflating [to lose extra inning games] if you want it to be,” Renteria said. “I’m not going to come in here and have these guys laying down and being sad. I’m going to play my music and I’ll come in here every single day ready to go and you say I have a lot of energy, well, that’s what I want those guys to have, too.”

What type of music?

“Everything — rock, pop, salsa, jazz,” Renteria said. “Whatever it takes.”

– Carrie Muskat

4/2 Baez, Hendricks on Iowa’s roster

Javier Baez and Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs’ 2013 Minor League player and pitcher of the year, are both on the Triple-A Iowa roster, announced Wednesday.

The roster features 10 players on the Cubs’ 40-man roster, 13 players with Major League experience, and 12 that have played with Iowa before.

Baez is the Cubs’ top prospect after hitting .282 (146-for-517) with 37 home runs and 111 RBI combined between high-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee last year. He will be joined by fellow prospects Arismendy Alcantara and Christian Villanueva on the infield. Alcantara represented the Cubs in the All-Star Futures Game in New York last year. Villanueva led the Southern League in doubles, total bases, and extra-base hits last season.

Veterans Lars Anderson and Chris Valaika round out the infield. Both have big league experience. Anderson was up with the Red Sox for 30 games from 2010-12 and Valaika has played 55 games with the Reds (2010-11) and Marlins (2013).

Former top prospects Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters return to the patrol the outfield. They’ll be joined by Matt Szczur, who played at Tennessee last season, and veteran Chris Coghlan, who won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2009.

The Cubs will feature three left-handers in the starting rotation, including 2013 Pacific Coast League All-Star Chris Rusin who will get the start on Opening Day. It’s his second straight Opening Day start for Iowa. The rest of the rotation will be right-hander Carlos Pimentel, Hendricks, lefty Eric Jokisch, and lefty Tsuyoshi Wada. Pimentel signed with the Cubs as a Minor league free agent after seven seasons in the Rangers’ organization.

Hendricks combined to go 13-4 with a 2.00 ERA in 27 starts between Tennessee and Iowa last year, finishing seventh in minor league baseball in ERA. Jokisch, a product of Northwestern University in Chicago, pitched a no-hitter last year for Tennessee, and led all Cubs’ minor leaguers with 137 strikeouts in 160 2/3 innings.

Wada recorded 107 wins in 201 games over nine seasons with Fukuoka in his native Japan before coming to the United States and signing with the Orioles in 2012. He has pitched the last two seasons at Triple-A Norfolk.

The bullpen has six of the eight pitchers who appeared for Iowa in past seasons, including Blake Parker, Casey Coleman, Marcus Hatley, Marcos Mateo, Yoanner Negrin and Zac Rosscup. Eli Whiteside and Rafael Lopez will handle the catching duties.

4/2 Kalish: “I feel calm”

After missing all of last season following cervical fusion surgery, Ryan Kalish wasn’t sure he’d be playing baseball again. On Wednesday, he started in left field for the Cubs. It’s his first in the big leagues since Sept. 11, 2012. And he slept great Tuesday night.

“I feel calm about it, in a good way,” Kalish said prior to Wednesday’s game. “I’m still excited and nerves are a part of it for sure. I just feel like everything now is just a lot of gravy for me.

“I have big goals for my career and big goals for this team, but I don’t know, maybe I’m getting older and learning to keep it a little more relaxed because you see the best players in the game do things easy rather than too hard or a lot of effort behind their swing or whatever they’re doing,” he said.

Kalish was a non-roster invitee on the Cubs this spring and made the Opening Day roster for the first time in his career. He did sub in Monday’s season opener against the Pirates, but that’s not the same as starting.

“I’m happy to be in the lineup for sure and I’m proud of myself getting back to this point but there’s a lot of work to be done still,” Kalish said. “It’s not about just today. We’re focused on today, but going forward, I want to continue to feel comfortable about playing in the Major Leagues again and just playing my game for this team.”

Kalish needs at least 1 1/2 hours each day to do exercises to maintain his flexibility and core strength. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had the same surgery and Kalish would like to someday talk to him about it.

“It’d be interesting to hear what he had to say about his experience,” Kalish said.

– Carrie Muskat

4/2 Cubs lineup

The Cubs face right-handed pitcher Charlie Morton tonight in Game 2 of their three-game series against the Pirates at PNC Park. Edwin Jackson gets the start for Chicago. Here’s the lineup, which is overloaded with left-handed hitters:

Bonifacio 2B
Valbuena 3B
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Schierholtz RF
Sweeney CF
Castillo C
Kalish LF
Jackson P

4/2 And here’s the donut …


4/2 Cubbie Donut helps Cubs Charities

Buy a donut, help Cubs Charities. Dunkin’ Donuts is partnering with the Cubs and Cubs Charities, and has released a new Cubbie Donut. A portion of the proceeds of Cubbie Donut sales (up to $10,000) from today until April 9 will be donated to Cubs Charities.

The special Cubbie Donut is a glazed donut with white frosting and blue and red drizzle, and will be available at Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants throughout the Chicago area.

In addition, Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins will meet and greet guests at the new Dunkin’ Donuts at 947 W. Addison near Wrigley Field at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. The restaurant will celebrate its grand opening with game ticket giveaways for the Cubs’ home opener against the Phillies and a $100 gift certificate honoring Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday.

There are more than 530 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in the Chicago area.

4/1 Welcome, everybody

According to MLB, 223 players born outside the U.S. were on Opening Day rosters. The Rangers had the most foreign-born players with 15, while the Cubs were fifth with 10. The Cubs have the most Dominican players with seven. The Dominican Republic leads the Major Leagues with 82 players on Opening Day rosters. The Cubs’ Dominican contingent includes Emilio Bonifacio, Welington Castillo, Starlin Castro, Junior Lake, Pedro Strop, Jose Veras, Carlos Villanueva. Other foreign born players on the Cubs include Venezuelans Hector Rondon and Luis Valbuena, and Japanese pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa.

4/1 Cubs sign Pineiro to Minor League deal

The Cubs have signed right-handed pitcher Joel Pineiro to a Minor League contract, and he will go to Mesa, Ariz., for extended Spring Training, then was expected to report to Triple-A Iowa. Pineiro, 35, has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2011. He has pitched for the Mariners, Red Sox, Cardinals and Angeles, and had his best seasons with St. Louis and pitching coach Dave Duncan, compiling a 28-23 record and 4.14 ERA in 69 games over three seasons.

In January 2012, Pineiro signed a Minor League deal with the Phillies, but was released after pitching six innings in Spring Training. He then signed a Minor League contract with the Orioles in April 2012, but did not pitch for the Major League team, and eventually needed surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder in July that year.

In February, Pineiro told MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez that he was not ready to retire.

“I have had 11 years in the big leagues, so I’m not complaining, but I’m not ready to shut it down,” he said. “I’m 35 and I told my wife this would be my last real push at it. I have four kids, my oldest is in middle school, but I still have the desire and love for the game.”

He pitched for Ponce this past winter in Puerto Rico, and was 2-0 with a 3.12 ERA over five outings.

– Carrie Muskat


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