Flu bug, bad blister knock 3 Cubs from lineup before 5-0 Cactus League loss to Rangers

Centerfielder Ian Happ continued his strong start to the spring, and bullpen newcomer Jeremy Jeffress pitched another scoreless inning in the loss.

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Ian Happ (shown here in an earlier game this spring) is off to a 9-for-18 start in seven games this spring.

John Antonoff photo

MESA, Ariz. — A four-run fourth inning that included just one earned run helped lift the Rangers on Thursday and drop the Cubs to 5-8-1 in Cactus League play.

Cub scratch fever

The Cubs’ lineup, which originally looked like a glimpse into Opening Day plans, reverted to a classic spring look within hours. Starting pitcher Yu Darvish and second baseman Jason Kipnis were scratched because of illness, and first baseman Anthony Rizzo was later scratched because of a blister on his right middle finger that split open. Kipnis and Rizzo are day-to-day. Darvish was cleared of any flu-related issues at a local hospital and could be back on a mound Friday.

Center piece?

Moving up to the second spot in the order because of the twice-changed lineup, center-field candidate Ian Happ singled on a slow roller toward third and away from the right-side shift in the first and lined a single toward the opposite-field gap in the third. He finished 2-for-3 (with a strikeout). 

Bullpen watch

Veteran right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, the only pitcher the Cubs added on a major-league contract this winter, turned in his third scoreless outing in as many appearances, his velocity creeping up to 92. He gave up only a one-out single to Isiah Kiner-Falafa and struck out Sam Huff in his inning.

Wieck progressing

Lefty reliever Brad Wieck, who underwent cardiac ablation Feb. 24 to correct a heart arrhythmia, expects to play catch again Friday as he continues a light throwing program. He has a scheduled follow-up Monday to evaluate the healing of the vein in his leg where a catheter was inserted. “Right now it’s the best-case scenario; everything’s healing well,” said Wieck, who’s OK with not rushing to return, even if it means he won’t start the season on time. “Just one of those things. Sometimes crummy stuff happens, and you’ve just got to deal with it and move on.”

On deck

White Sox at Cubs, Mesa, 2:05 p.m. Friday, MSN, 670-AM, Lucas Giolito vs. Jon Lester.

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