By: Alex Patt
Opening Day is right around the corner and the projected starters are getting more playing time. That is of course outside SS Addison Russell, who will be serving the rest of his 40-game domestic violence suspension when the regular season begins. Manager Joe Maddon said that he will get less playing time in Spring Training so guys who are set to break camp for opening day can play more.
As for others, there are not a lot of questions when it comes to the opening day roster position player wise. One could wonder if Mark Zagunis has earned a spot with the spring he has had, (.355/.412/.742). The outfield is pretty crowded and Zagunis has been unfortunately blocked the past few years from making an impact on the big league level, but one cannot ignore what he has done this spring and in the minors. His status opening day could also be impacted by the status of Daniel Descalso, who is having some shoulder issues and his return is not clear. Out side of that the position player spots are pretty locked in.
It is worth noting the incredibly hot start to spring by prospect Nico Hoerner, the 21 year old short stop from Stanford. He is batting .636/.714/2.078 in 11 at-bats. One may ask if he is ready to see the majors, but he has not been above A Ball and it would probably not be wise to rush him to the majors. Could we see him later in 2019? Maybe, but there is every reason to believe he will begin this season in the minors.
Biggest worries right now continue to be the bullpen. Pedro Strop seems okay, but hammy issues are always somewhat concerning. Brad Brach is still trying to get his velocity back, he had battled a case of mono this offseason. Lefty depth piece Xavier Cedeno is having wrist issues and his return is not clear and of course we know closer Brandon Morrow will not be ready for opening day. It also has not helped that Brian Duensing has struggled mightily this spring and Mike Montgomery has had some shoulder issues. Only time will tell how these issues are resolved.
Cubs will open their season against the Texas Rangers in Arlington in 10 days.