Rangers Word Series banner ceremony on Opening Day gives Cubs something to aim for

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cubs looked on from the visitors dugout at Globe Life Field as the Rangers unfurled their 2023 World Series banner in the right field rafters Thursday.

Fireworks boomed, fans roared, ‘We are the Champions’ blared. The World Series trophy sat on a podium behind home plate.

“Seeing it on the other side, that’s where we want to get to,” veteran pitcher Kyle Hendricks said late in spring training. “So having that example in front of you, that extra motivation, to be able to start there [in Texas] and get the ceremony and play against them, just that whole bit will be great for our experience and kick start the season for us and show us where we’ll be headed for the year.”

Opening Day always carries some level of pomp and circumstance. But the reigning World Series Champions have a little more included in their festivities. Before the banner dropped, manager Bruce Bochy took the mic, rousing Texas fans into a deafening frenzy.

The Rangers plan to hold their ring ceremony on Saturday.

“You’re very respectful of that,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s how I always treat that. It’s really hard to do, and we’re all trying to do it. Anytime you see it, you’re kind of happy for those people. You’re a little jealous, honestly, but it’s so hard to do that you respect what they’re getting to do.”

The Cubs had six players make the Opening Day roster for the first time: catcher Miguel Amaya, first baseman Michael Busch, third baseman/designated hitter Christopher Morel, and pitchers Shota Imanaga, Jordan Wicks and Luke Little.

“It’s a big deal to be on the Opening Day roster,” left fielder Ian Happ said. “It’s a big deal being a big league camp for spring training, and to make it through that to be on the Opening Day roster, to be here for a full season … it’s pretty special. And so just to share that with those guys and let them know how proud the whole group is of them, and they’re gonna be a big part of this.”

Happ leads off

Happ led off on Thursday, reclaiming a role he last regularly held early in 2021.

“It’s putting yourself in the best position to be on base for those guys behind you – in our lineup specifically, giving Seiya [Suzuki] and Belly [Cody Bellinger] and opportunity to drive runs in,” Happ said before the game. “That’s my job. And you take the first at-bat, and then it becomes a normal game.”

Happ, a switch hitter, will likely begin the season leading off against right-handed pitchers. Against lefties, Nico Hoerner is a leading candidate at the top of the order. But Happ, who only played in nine spring training games because of a strained left hamstring, could eventually claim the spot full time, depending on his performance from the right side of the plate.

Madrigal at third

Morel spent all spring working out at third base, trying to get more comfortable at the position. But on Thursday, he served as the DH, and Nick Madrigal started at third .

“Chris is going to play a ton of third base,” Counsell said. “There will be times with certain pitcher matchups, like a lot of right handed hitters in the lineup, just the nature of … where the ball is going to be hit [against Cubs starter Justin Steele], that we might choose to prioritize defense — and with pitcher splits and things like that. So this is a day that fits for that.”

Roster moves

The Cubs made three injured list moves official on Thursday, as they finalized their Opening Day roster. As expected, they put right-hander Caleb Kilian (strained right shoulder) on the 60-day IL, right-hander Jameson Taillon (strained back) on the 15-day IL and corner infielder Patrick Wisdom (strained back) on the 10-day IL. They also added veteran first baseman Garrett Cooper to the roster.

Source link


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *