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Gray Day Won’t Dampen Cubs’ Spirits At Home Opener

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CHICAGO (CBS) – It’s a big day for the Chicago Cubs, and as long as the rain holds off this afternoon, the weather won’t wash away fans’ excitement for the team’s home opener, and the start of a yearlong commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field.

CBS 2’s Ryan Baker reports what’s being dubbed as the party of the century begins Friday afternoon when the Cubs host the Phillies.

General manager Jed Hoyer said he was encouraged by the signs he saw from the Cubs’ pitching staff in their first three games against the Pirates, despite losing two of three games. The Cubs gave up only seven runs in three games – two of which went into extra innings. All three games were decided by only one run.

“The starters threw great the whole series. I thought the bullpen threw well,” he said. “We could easily be 2-1, or 3-0, or even 0-3. That’s the nature of one-run games.”

As for Friday’s game, Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, and Billy Williams will throw out ceremonial first pitches for the home opener, and another Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg, will be making his second visit to Wrigley Field as the manager of the Phillies.

CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, as they prepare to lift the tarp on another season at the Friendly Confines, the man who’s in charge of the Cubs seemed psyched about the storied ballpark’s centennial celebration.

“It’s going to be a wonderful Opening Day. It’s just going to be a great season,” said Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts.

That despite the fact an ongoing dispute with the owners of rooftop clubs across the street doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon, and the Cubs have yet to begin an extensive renovation of the stadium.

Rooftop owners are concerned the $300 million renovation plan – more specifically, new video boards and advertising signs in the outfield – will block existing views from clubs overlooking Wrigley Field.

Ricketts said he’s optimistic the Cubs can strike a deal with the rooftop owners.

“I think so. I’m hopeful. I think everyone has an incentive to do what’s right, and do what’s right for the long-term, and I think we’ll get there,” he said.

Ricketts said the Cubs want to get started on construction as soon as possible.

Fans heading to Wrigleyville ahead of this afternoon’s game weren’t thinking about a potential courtroom showdown over the renovation plans, but of this year’s team, and the ongoing rebuilding effort on the field.

Hoyer said he sees reason for optimism about the team.

“Actually, I think our team’s a lot of fun to watch. You know, we’ve got a lot of good young players. Very versatile this year, a lot of platoons, and I think you’re starting to see the picture come together,” Hoyer said.

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