- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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This coming weekend’s Cubs-Red Sox series has a lot of interesting turns as we approach the historic three-game set.
In Boston, it’s being received like a mini-World Series. MLB Network, Fox Sports and ESPN are each carrying one of the three night games on national TV. Tickets are as scarce as any of the Red Sox’s World Series runs in 2004 and 2007. The Cubs are planning on having a great majority of their front office and ownership in attendance for all three games. Most of the team’s marketing department will also be in attendance.
On the field, however, this series is about two teams that have underachieved. The Red Sox recently went over the .500 mark for the first time all season. The Cubs have been at .500 more times than any team in the majors (10). They have failed, however, to put together a winning streak longer than two games.
Cubs manager Mike Quade has had his experiences at Fenway, having coached in the park with the Oakland A’s.
“It can be tough there,” Quade said. “But I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to our team playing well. Like Wrigley Field, it’s a wonderful place to go.”
Quade was asked what he knows about the history of the series going back to 1918.
“1918? I don’t much about that,” he said. “I think they’re going to put me in some old uniform as well.”
The Cubs and Red Sox will indeed wear throwback uniforms from the early part of the 20th century during one of the games of the series. Cubs’ media relations director Peter Chase said the Cubs would wear an early-century road uniform, but not necessarily one from 1918.
Quade is toying with his lineup as he prepares for the series, which will present his first opportunity to utilize a DH as Cubs manager.
“I’m not sure about left field,” Quade said. “I’m pretty well set on my right-handed lineup against [Friday’s starter Jon Lester]. Reed [Johnson] and Jeff [Baker] will play. My infield is set [Carlos Pena] will play. My only question is what to do with right field. Do I DH [Alfonso Soriano]? Do I play [Baker] out there? Bake’s played mostly right field. [Marlon] Byrd’s going to play center. My sense is Reed will play right.”
Quade could DH Soriano and put Baker in left. However, Baker’s outfield experience is limited and Fenway’s Green Monster creates special circumstances.
Johnson, a former Toronto Blue Jay, has the most experience playing on Fenway on the Cubs’ roster.
“We will get out there early on Friday and I’ll help [outfield instructor] Bob Denier with the outfielders. We’ll go over where to play and how to play the carom off the wall, etc.”
Quade, for one, thinks worrying about the Green Monster may be a bit overrated.
“The fact is there isn’t a lot of ground to cover out there,” Quade said. “As long as you know how to play a hard-hit ball carom-wise, sometimes even your shortstop can get the ball on a hard-hit ball off that wall.”
Who will play the corner OF spots for the Cubs at Fenway?