CHICAGO (CBS) — At Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field, some Cubs and White Sox players have already been spotted checking in as baseball returns to Chicago this week.
Official practices start on Friday.
CBS 2’s Luke Stuckmeyer asked Mark Gonzales, the Cubs beat writer for the Chicago Tribune, what kind of game shape the players are likely to be in.
“To me, that’s the biggest question, because you could feel you’re in shape, you know, throwing off the mound a lot in your backyard or in your garage, but when it comes to stepping in the mound – when there’s a lot at stake, you’ve got a lot of adrenaline going – it’s a different ballgame,” Gonzales said. “But add to that the 60-game schedule, a three-game losing streak could be equivalent to a seven-game losing streak. There’s a lot at stake.”
The season will go fast and will be a sprint to the playoffs. Will teams try anything creative from a pitching perspective, such as relievers coming in as starters for one game, or multiple starters in one game?
“I think those that have questions about their pitching staff definitely will do that, whether it be have one starter go one time through the order, then you come back with a left-handed reliever or vice versa, depending on who’s starting,” Gonzales said. “I think you could see a lot of that early, because you even know it’s going to be three-weeks spring training, and guys will have some work under belt from back in March, but it’s still not the same because they’re not in rhythm.”
Meanwhile, this is the first season for David Ross as Cubs manager. Ross has been around baseball a lot, but he had a plan for how this season is going to go that was upended.
“He made it clear from the start he’d prefer a set plan, but now he’s going to tweak it some. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, because the Cubs has a surplus of outfielders – very versatile outfielders. You have the DH now, so you want to give a guy a semi-break, stick a reserve out there,” Gonzales said. “I think David’s going to be in decent shape, because he inherits an experienced team and a very versatile team.”
And while the Cubs have a veteran team, the White Sox are full of young players. Who will the shortened season be tougher on?
“I think if you look at the second half – the last 30 games with the teams in contention, it’s going to be the younger guys, because the scrutiny’s going to be greater. Granted, this is a weird season, but if you’re in it to win, there’s going to be a big magnifying glass on you, and the youngsters haven’t been through that,” Gonzales said. “The veterans have.”