The rivalry is back on! Okay, not really, but the Cubs welcome the White Sox to Sloan Park Friday in what still amounts to a cross-town contest. This is a big one for the burgeoning South Side squad, which gets to play in front of a bigger crowd than they’re used to hosting at Guaranteed Rate. That could change this year, however, as big free agent signings and some talented youngsters are planning to make some noise.
The Cubs will counter with Nico Hoerner leading off at second, followed by Kyle Schwarber in left and Willson Contreras at DH. Jason Heyward is in right, Victor Caratini is catching, Albert Almora Jr. is in center, and David Bote is at third. Daniel Descalso gets the call at first with Hernán Pérez at short.
Hoerner in the top spot is worth watching, since the Cubs believe he can eventually develop into a leadoff hitter. He’ll probably get a chance to hone those skills at Triple-A, and there might even be some clues to that at the bottom of the order. Hoerner would be the starting second baseman if he makes the roster, but one of his most valuable skills is the ability to back up short.
Pérez can do that as well, along with playing five or six other positions, and we’ve seen Descalso moving all over the diamond as well. Even though a spring lineup is not the least bit definitive, this is something to monitor. It’s also good to see Almora in the lineup after being sent home due to illness yesterday. Likewise, Yu Darvish is feeling much better and with throw three simulated innings.
Jon Lester is on the bump for the Cubs as he makes his third start of the spring. He came back with a strong effort after getting banged around in his debut, much of which came from better execution and working on more than just the fastball.
The 2:05pm CT start will be televised on Marquee Sports Network, but both 670 The Score and WGN 720 will have the respective teams’ radio calls.