Miami Marlins

Cubs unveil 2018 schedule with more White Sox and a World Series rematch vs. Indians

baezsantanacubsindians.jpg
AP

Cubs unveil 2018 schedule with more White Sox and a World Series rematch vs. Indians

The Cubs will open their 143rd season with a 10-game road trip, expand the crosstown rivalry with the White Sox and revisit an epic World Series next year.

Those are some of the highlights from the tentative 2018 schedule released Tuesday, with the Cubs opening next season on March 29 at Marlins Park and traveling to Cincinnati and Milwaukee before the April 9 Wrigley Field opener against the Pirates.

One year after the stunning Jose Quintana trade, the Cubs will play two three-game series against the White Sox in Wrigleyville (May 11-13) and on the South Side (Sept. 21-23).

As part of that American League Central crossover, the Cubs will have flashbacks to the 2016 World Series in Cleveland, returning to the scene of an unforgettable Game 7 (April 24-25) and hosting the Indians — who are now one of the hottest teams in baseball history — for two more games a month later (May 22-23).

Check out the entire grid here:

 

Catcher looks like next trade-deadline move for Cubs: ‘We have a lot of hooks in the water’

Catcher looks like next trade-deadline move for Cubs: ‘We have a lot of hooks in the water’

Adding a veteran catcher sounds like the next trade-deadline move for a Cubs team built around pitching and defense and Willson Contreras’ almost unlimited supply of energy. 

“We have a lot of hooks in the water right now,” general manager Jed Hoyer said before Tuesday’s 7-2 win over the White Sox at Wrigley Field. “But whether or not something happens soon, I’m not sure.”

The Cubs aren’t hunting for a big fish, because Contreras has already become one of their most valuable players, a dangerous cleanup hitter, a physically gifted thrower and receiver and an eager student when it comes to the team’s sophisticated game-planning system. Just look at how Contreras set the tone by launching a Carlos Rodon fastball 417 feet onto Waveland Avenue for a three-run homer in the first inning. 

With that in mind, the Cubs are not as high on Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila as some reports indicate. The Cubs also don’t have Jonathan Lucroy near the top of their list, sources said, because the Texas Rangers catcher needs to play regularly to be effective and would ideally go to a situation where he could showcase what made him a two-time All-Star with the Milwaukee Brewers and recoup some free-agent value after a disappointing walk year (.632 OPS).

Leading up to the July 31 deadline, the Cubs are actively looking at backup plans where rookie catcher Victor Caratini would return to Triple-A Iowa – where he hit .341 in 69 games before Miguel Montero’s epic rant – and become a September call-up. 

If the Cubs stay focused on a veteran backup who will only play once a week, A.J. Ellis could make sense. The price would be less than $1 million in salary and wouldn’t cost a top-tier prospect. The Miami Marlins are sellers and Ellis – who used to work as Clayton Kershaw’s personal catcher – knows the pitching infrastructure catching/strategy coach Mike Borzello helped design for the Cubs after their time together around Brad Ausmus with the Los Angeles Dodgers.    

“We’re still in that process,” Hoyer said. “I think some teams prioritize timing. They have a bunch of deals they need to make, and so they’ll say: ‘OK, we’re going to move this guy by Thursday.’ Sometimes it happens…right now, we’re kind of sorting out that. 

[MOREWillson Contreras may be ‘the f------ Energizer Bunny,’ but Cubs still need to get another catcher before trade deadline]

“But a lot of this time of the year is about timing. Unless the team prioritizes moving early, then usually things aren’t going to happen for another four or five days.”

This sounds like a matter of when – not if – but the Cubs won’t rush to get their new catcher in uniform before this weekend’s showdown against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

“If it happens, that’s great,” Hoyer said. “But otherwise it’s kind of a false deadline. You want to careful not to react to that. You don’t want to do a deal for a couple games.” 

Juan Pierre felt 'a little bit a part' of last year's World Series team

Juan Pierre felt 'a little bit a part' of last year's World Series team

Among the many making their first Wrigley Field pilgrimage on Saturday was Juan Pierre. 

The former MLB outfielder donned a Cubs jersey for 162 games in 2006, but he had never been to the Friendly Confines as a fan. 

"I had to ask my wife how you even get into the stadium. I didn't even know what entrance to take or any of that," Pierre joked with Kelly Crull during the Cubs' 3-2 win over the Cardinals. "But it's a great experience." 

Pierre was a fan favorite on the North Side, swiping 58 bases in his lone season with the club. He finished his career 18th on the all-time steals list, tallying 614 with six clubs.

His 2006 Cubs squad was short on success, though. Despite having the seventh highest payroll in baseball, the team lost 96 games, ultimately leading to the firing of Dusty Baker. 

Even so, Pierre, like so many other former Cubs, felt connected to the 2016 team. 

"When they won it last year, I felt a little bit a part of it," Pierre said. "I didn't have much to do with it, but I always tell everybody, 'anybody who ever put that uniform on, they wanted to be the one who did it.'"

Pierre was excited to see Anthony Rizzo, who has a home near the former outfielder in Parkland, Florida, and other members of the team that broke the curse in his return to Chicago. But Wrigleyville isn't the only side of town he's familiar with.

Pierre played two seasons with the White Sox, giving him a unique perspective on the upcoming Crosstown series. 

"You throw the records out. You throw everything out," he said. "The fans really got into it. As players we're like, 'OK this is another game we gotta win,' but the fans were crazy. What I realized was the Cubs don't like the White Sox. The White Sox fans hate the Cubs fans."