MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs will trot out their normal five-man pitching rotation in Cactus League games beginning Monday, when No. 5 starter Tyler Chatwood pitches against the Seattle Mariners at Sloan Park.
Tuesday through Friday, the Cubs will start Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish and Jose Quintana, respectively. Mike Montgomery, the swing man, will come in after Hendricks is done in his start.
Should fans and media read anything into the order?
“Of course you should because that’s what you guys do,” manager Joe Maddon said before Saturday’s Sloan Park opener against the Texas Rangers.
Maddon hasn’t announced his starter for the regular-season opener March 29 at Miami.
“But we will make the announcement, I promise you, early next week,” he said. “We will solidify, we’ll galvanize it, we’ll give it to you. [Pitching coach Jim Hickey] is still working on everything. I had a talk with him this morning. Conversationally, with some of the other guys, he still has to have that conversation. So we’ll give it to you next week.”
Turning on the power: Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras hit back-to-back homers in the bottom of the fourth inning in Saturday’s 6-1 victory over the Rangers. Rizzo hit an opposite-field two-run homer to left after fouling a pitch off his foot. Contreras followed with a no-doubt shot to left.
Both homers came against Crystal Lake Central graduate Connor Sadzeck.
That delighted the sellout crowd of 14,821, which packed Sloan Park on a cool, 59-degree day.
Zobrist takes it easy: Veteran infielder Ben Zobrist is taking it easy and not playing in games because of back tightness. He has been hitting off a tee in the batting cages.
The 36-year-old Zobrist said he felt the tightness about a week before he came to spring training.
“Back tightness is one of those things you’ve got to be careful with in baseball,” he said. “So we’re just trying to be careful and make sure we’re not pushing it when we don’t need to, especially when I got some miles on my body. So there’s no need to push and put some extra miles on it right now when I don’t have to. [Maddon’s] recommendation was, ‘Let’s be very, very careful and make sure that you’re good and healthy come the beginning of the season.’ ”