pixel
Spring Training Notebooks

Spring Training Notebook: Shota Imanaga slated to start opener at Wrigley Field

4 months agoAndy Martinez

St Notebook Sloan Image

PEORIA, Ariz. — Shota Imanaga dazzled Cubs fans during his introductory press conference when he recited the first line of “Go Cubs, Go”.

Now, he’ll have a chance to lead the Wrigley Field faithful to their first rendition of the famous song in 2024. Imanaga is slated to start the Cubs’ home opener a week from Monday against the Rockies, manager Craig Counsell announced Sunday. It’s sure to create a lasting memory — and not just for the show that comes with a home opener.

“I’m very honored to do that,” Imanaga said Sunday through interpreter Edwin Stanberry. “I haven’t gotten advice, but I’ve heard it’s really cold and very windy. So, once I get to Chicago I want to figure out the environment and go from there.”

The Cubs have had their rotation lined up this way for about a week now. Justin Steele will start Opening Day on Thursday, Kyle Hendricks will pitch Saturday in Texas and Jordan Wicks will get the series finale against the defending World Series champions.

Setting up the rotation this way allows Counsell to break up his lefty starters, too. In that home-opening series against Colorado, Javier Assad will likely follow Imanaga and Steele in the finale.

“As a player on the Cubs, I have a lot of responsibility, especially being a first-year player,” Imanaga said. “I want to have good results and carry the team into the postseason.”

He’ll get the chance to set the tone in front of a fanbase that’s already made an impression on him.

“Just watching the games at Sloan Park and seeing the amount of fans — as well as when Bellinger signed, the first game he was there, the amount of fans are cheering him on — that was awesome,” Imanaga said. “The fans are really respectful, and I haven’t thrown in an official game yet. So, I want to gain the respect of the fans and make them proud.”

300x250

Opening Day 2025

The Cubs are going international — again.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Cubs and Dodgers “have been privately informed they have been selected to open the 2025 season in Tokyo.”

The Cubs would open the season in Japan against Los Angeles before heading back to Arizona to finish Spring Training and open the season on a West Coast trip. The Cubs played the first regular season game overseas in Japan in 2000 when they played the Mets at the Tokyo Dome.

Both teams carry a pair of Japanese superstars on their roster — the Cubs with Imanaga and outfielder Seiya Suzuki and the Dodgers with Shohei Ohtani and pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto. It would allow that fanbase to experience the game and stars firsthand.

“For the fans in Japan, watching the games here, there’s the time zone differences,” Imanaga said. “So it’d be an honor to be able to play in front of them.”

There’s been no confirmation from the Cubs or the league on the report.

“I heard it on the news, but I’m not really thinking about it too much just because I want to focus on this season and getting good results,” Imanaga said. “And then once the season is over then kind of look forward to that.”

Injury updates

Nick Madrigal (right hamstring) played in his first Cactus League since March 4. He was 0-for-3 while playing third base against the Mariners at the Peoria Sports Complex.

Patrick Wisdom (back) played catch on the agility field Sunday morning. He’s expected to open the season on the IL.

Next Up

The Cubs will begin a two-game exhibition set against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday at Sloan Park. Jordan Wicks will get the start opposite Steven Matz at 3 p.m. on Marquee Sports Network.

Don’t Miss Out On The Action!

Sign up for the Marquee Sports Network Newsletter today for all the latest Cubs news, plus upcoming Marquee programming and much more!

Newsletter Signup
Consent *
Opt-in
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.