Outfield assist: Cubs anticipate ‘full capacity’ bleacher impact

SHARE Outfield assist: Cubs anticipate ‘full capacity’ bleacher impact

What can getting 2,000 voices back from the right-field DL do for a home team?

The Cubs hope to find out now that the Wrigley Field bleachers are at full strength with Thursday’s long-delayed opening of the right-field section for the start of a six-game homestand.

“Absolutely. You heard it when the left-field and center-field [sections] opened up [last month],” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “Now with right field opening up, it’ll just be louder. It’s good timing. Summer’s hitting, and we’re about to really get deep into the season the next few weeks.”

When the first delayed sections of bleachers opened May 11, the Cubs opened a seven-game homestand with a season-high six-game winning streak.

Nobody’s guaranteeing anything like that against Cincinnati and Cleveland the next few days.

But manager Joe Maddon said coming off the team’s 5-4 road trip that it’s time to “make hay” at home the rest of the season, especially with the fan surround-sound restored.

“We’re at full capacity, Maddon said. “Coming off a nice road trip, I know the fans are definitely into it right now. Just walking around downtown, I’m getting a lot of feedback from the folks.”

Maddon said the difference was palpable with the May 11 opening of the first two bleacher sections – which were delayed from an original Opening Day timeline because the business operations department didn’t anticipate the cold weather in the winter, officials said.

“You can feel it,” Maddon said.

The Cubs were 15-11 at home with 55 more to play, entering Thursday’s opener of a four-game series against the Reds.

Pitcher Jake Arrieta, who’s averaging nearly an inning more per start with a 2.88 home ERA compared to 3.47 on the road, said he anticipates and uptick of an already strong, loud atmosphere.

“It’s going to be a good feeling,” he said. “Every time we come home with something new added to the yard, whether it’s a scoreboard in left, a scoreboard in right, bleachers in left or right, it’s an exciting time for us. And it’s fun to see the transformation of Wrigley starting to come together.”

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