Cubs, White Sox Monday spring-training report

Three weeks from tonight, the Cubs play a game at Wrigley Field for the first time since winning the World Series.

Still seems strange saying that.

They open their home schedule April 10 against the Dodgers. And Wrigley Field will have a different look, notably those pesky bullpens down each foul line will be gone.

The Cubs are keeping a tight lid on what’s happening during the latest rounds of renovation at the ballpark.

Aerial view of renovations at and around Wrigley Field from a flight Saturday, March 11, 2017. | Lee Hogan/For the Sun-Times

Cubs spokesman Julian Green replied to a request from our Gordon Wittenmyer with the following statement: “Construction is on schedule and current work in the ballpark includes completing structural assets, field surface, relocated bullpens, restroom facilities and grand stand seating. As we stated during Cubs Convention, there will be some ongoing work on concessions during the season.”

More detailed updates are expected in the next couple of weeks, Green added.

It’s hard to make sense of what’s happening at Wrigley, but aerial shots (taken March 11) by photographer Lee Hogan provide a glimpse inside the Friendly Confines.

Aerial view of renovations at and around Wrigley Field from a flight Saturday, March 11, 2017. | Lee Hogan/For the Sun-Times

Aerial view of renovations at and around Wrigley Field from a flight Saturday, March 11, 2017. | Lee Hogan/For the Sun-Times

Aerial view of renovations at and around Wrigley Field from a flight Saturday, March 11, 2017. | Lee Hogan/For the Sun-Times

Aerial view of renovations at and around Wrigley Field from a flight Saturday, March 11, 2017. | Lee Hogan/For the Sun-Times

 

PROSPECT WATCH

Wittenmyer takes a look today at Ian Happ, whom he describes as part of “the Cubs’ freight train of hitting prospects rolling to the major leagues.”

Happ, one of the top hitters in the Cactus League this spring training, is in the lineup today, playing second base against the Rockies.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to help this ballclub in any way I can,” said Happ, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2015 draft. “I’m enjoying being versatile and being able to play multiple positions and just trying to take every opportunity I can to help the team.”

DOWN TO THE WIRE

Wittenmyer took a look Sunday at the finishing touches the Cubs hope to apply before the end of camp in less than two weeks. He examines three key questions still looming.

First: 12 or 13 pitchers for the opening roster? Second: Who gets the 25th spot on the roster, infielder Tommy La Stella or outfielder Matt Szczur? Third: What do you do with Jason Heyward?

For the answers to these pressing questions, check out Gordon’s story. Hint: 13 is a lucky number.

THE REAL BIG DANCE

Sure, the NCAA tournament likes to bill itself as the Big Dance. We know the truth. And former Cubs catcher David Ross will be one of the shining stars tonight on “Dancing With the Stars,” which has its premiere tonight at 7 o’clock on ABC.

Check out what Ross and rival Mr. T think about their Big Dance.

SPOILER ALERT

We love season predictions. All of the ones we have seen so far predict good things for the Cubs this season. The Sporting News is the latest to post a season preview. Check it out if for only to see who is their “Fantasy Sleeper.”

ON THE SOUTH SIDE

We know they used to call James Shields “Big Game James,” but that was long before his arrival to the White Sox. What most Sox fans recall is that 6.77 ERA and 31 home runs James allowed over the last four months of the season.

He has pitched in a couple of World Series and he does have an impressive resume that took some serious hits during his stay on the South Side.

But if you’re looking for a leader in that Sox clubhouse, some say Shields is your man, according to a story our Daryl Van Schouwen posted today.

“I’m the oldest guy in the camp,’’ he said, laughing at the sound of that. “It’s OK to say that. I take that as a compliment.

“They were calling me elder statesman when I was in Tampa so I’m kind of used to it. But I still feel young, and age is a number. I still feel great.’’

Check out Daryl’s story for a refreshing, different look at Shields.

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