After record spring training crowds and an opening series in Pittsburgh, the Chicago Cubs begin the 100th-anniversary season at Wrigley Field with a three-game set against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday.
Sandberg returns: It’s not his first visit as an opposing manager, but Ryne Sandberg is back at Wrigley as he guides the Phillies in his first full season at the helm. The Hall of Fame Cub was passed over during the past couple of Cubs managerial vacancies, and now he’ll oppose Rick Renteria for the first time. On Thursday, Renteria said he doesn’t know Sandberg very well, though the two played against each other. Renteria, who played five seasons in the late 1980s and early 1990s, said they didn’t face each other often because “Sandberg was in the big leagues much longer than I was.” Sandberg played 16 seasons in the majors, his last in 1997.
Wrigley debuts: Emilio Bonifacio should get a nice ovation after his 11-for-16 start on the road, while Mike Olt is looking forward to seeing Wrigley Field for the first time without snow covering it. What kind of reception will Starlin Castro get after an off year and slow start in Pittsburgh?
Wood’s first start: The Cubs' lone All-Star last season saw his first start pushed back to Friday so he could face a lefty-dominated team in the Phillies. Wood pitched like an ace at times last season but still flies under the radar. Pitching coach Chris Bosio has said he wants even more out of Wood as he tries to take the next step in a career moving in the right direction. Wood could become one of the better lefties in the game.