MARYVALE, Ariz. — The Cubs played mostly minor leaguers in their spring opener, won by the Brewers on Eric Sogard’s two-run triple off Dario Alvarez in the fourth inning.
To honor victims of last week’s school shooting in Florida, the Cubs and Brewers wore hats bearing the logo and team colors of Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of the shooting that claimed 17 lives. Anthony Rizzo, a Douglas graduate, did not play; he is scheduled to make his spring debut in the Cubs’ home exhibition opener Saturday.
Happ at the top
Switch-hitting Ian Happ, last year’s versatile and productive rookie, could help fill this year’s leadoff spot for the Cubs. That’s where he batted in the spring opener, hitting to left field for an out and grounding an 0-2 pitch to first for another. Manager Joe Maddon said Happ is one of “probably four” candidates for a piece of the leadoff mix-and-match plan this season. Kyle Schwarber could get part of that action, Maddon said, despite his miserable experience there the first six weeks of last season.
Two of the only three projected 25-man roster guys in the game for the Cubs turned in two of the best defensive plays. Third baseman Tommy La Stella charged a slow roller by Keon Broxton, barehanded the ball and threw a speedy Broxton out while falling to the grass. Two innings later, center fielder Happ saved at least two runs with a diving catch of Jesus Aguilar’s shallow fly for the final out, leaving the bases loaded.
La Stella also delivered a two-out single to left in the top of the third off right-hander Oliver Drake to send home Mike Freeman from second for the Cubs’ only run. He went 1-for-2.
Rangers at Cubs at Sloan Park, Mesa, Arizona, Eddie Butler vs. Clayton Blackburn, 2:05 p.m. Saturday, 670-AM.
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