‘It’s real’ for Cubs in exhibition tune-up against White Sox
Baseball is back at Wrigley Field.
Real, live baseball — with another team and everything.
It was still an exhibition game, but for the first time in four months, the Cubs faced off against an opponent wearing a different uniform. And for the first time in nearly 10 months, a non-intrasquad game took place at the “Friendly Confines.”
“We got to see the White Sox guys going on the field while we were getting off the field for BP. Just seeing another team, it’s real,” Anthony Rizzo said. “[The season is] gonna be here on Friday and there’s a lot of excitement for me personally just to be able to get back and playing baseball. I know there’s no fans. There will be baseball on TV hopefully on Friday and get back to a sense of normalcy.”
The Cubs have felt the energy changing around Wrigleyville with a trio of exhibition games this week ahead of the regular season opener Friday night.
“It’s gonna mean a lot to the city and obviously just in the country overall,” Kyle Schwarber said. “It’s gonna be a good, positive thing that’s going on to sit down and watch a baseball game for 3-4 hours and be able to cheer on your team. … To bring back Amercia’s pastime to America I think is gonna be great.”
The Cubs ultimately dropped the summer camp exhibition opener 7-3 to the White Sox Sunday night, but it still represented a perfect tune-up for Kyle Hendricks leading up to his Opening Day start Friday.
Hendricks tossed 4.2 innings and was charged with 3 runs on 6 hits but actually departed with a 2-1 lead. The White Sox didn’t get to Hendricks until his 76th pitch — a high fastball to Adam Engel that wound up on Waveland Ave.
After a pair of singles and a flyout, David Ross came out to make a pitching change and called on Jharel Cotton, who is trying to make the Opening Day roster as a long reliever. Cotton gave up four straight extra-base hits — the first of which knocked in both inherited runners — and by the end of the frame, the Sox had a 6-2 lead.
The Cubs initially jumped in front thanks to a pair of RBI from the guys competing for the second-base job — Jason Kipnis hit a homer in the 1st inning and Nico Hoerner drove home Willson Contreras in the 2nd with a sacrifice fly.
David Bote drove in the Cubs’ final run on an infield hit with the bases loaded in the 8th inning.
“It was just exciting to have a team across the way,” Ross said. “The guys had a little bit more energy in the cage underneath before the game. Just see what it feels like for real, having the crosstown team over there — and they got a really good squad — it was fun. You get tired of playing yourself.
“It’s nice to see Kyle throw well; he pitched really well tonight. Really filled up the zone. All in all, really good.”
—The Cubs have Yu Darvish scheduled for Monday’s exhibition game against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on the South Side. The plan Wednesday is for Jon Lester to start and Alec Mills to piggyback in relief.
That means Tyler Chatwood is currently in line to get the ball for the finale of the season-opening series with the Brewers next Sunday, with Hendricks and Darvish slated for the first two games.
Ross acknowledged Sunday part of the equation with the rotation has been how stretched out each pitcher is with only a couple weeks of summer camp to get ready for the season.
—Reliever Kyle Ryan missed the first week of Cubs summer camp due to a process-related issue, but he is still in line to be ready for Opening Day.
“I think he’s in a good place,” Ross said. “I’ve had good conversations with him. He feels great, his stuff looks good when he’s gotten out there — a lot of weak contact. I continue to get feedback from Kyle daily. Right now, he looks good to go.”