SURPRISE, Ariz. — Left-hander Drew Smyly is scheduled to take the mound Sunday against the Brewers, manager David Ross announced on the last day of spring-training camp.
With that news Tuesday, the Cubs’ rotation came into focus for the four-game opening series. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks is set to start Thursday, on Opening Day at Wrigley Field, followed by lefty Justin Steele, righty Marcus Stroman and Smyly.
“It’s going to be an exciting year,” Smyly said. “Hopefully we get off to a hot start and just can roll with it.”
The Cubs have a day off Monday, so they don’t need a fifth starter until the second time through the rotation.
Right-hander Alec Mills, who was scheduled to start a simulated game Tuesday, has experience in a swingman role. As Smyly continues to build up his workload, Mills could come in as a multi-inning reliever Sunday — or before — and potentially join the rotation at the end of the week.
Veteran left-hander Wade Miley (elbow inflammation) is expected to start the season on the injured list.
Smyly signed with the Cubs this spring, rejoining the organization after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery with the Cubs in 2018. But he never pitched for the major-league team.
“It’s always been an intriguing spot to come back,” Smyly said after signing. “Not to mention the city and the atmosphere at Wrigley. I spent a whole summer there and didn’t get to play. But I know how fun it is to take that field. So it’s always kind of a little sad for me that I didn’t get a chance to do that when I was here first.”
Cubs embrace tradition
MLB has approved PitchCom for the regular season, but the Cubs will communicate pitch calls by more traditional means.
PitchCom is a wearable pitch-calling device that teams had access to this spring, as sign-stealing and pace of play have taken the spotlight in recent years.
“I’ve already seen a couple of people get crossed up that are using it,” Ross said. “So as of right now, if anybody feels like we want to integrate that, we will. That’s probably a process for later in the year or next year for us, from all the feedback that I get.”
Ross added that the Cubs’ catchers weren’t as comfortable using the devices as others on teams that have decided to embrace the technology. The use of PitchCom is optional.
Rangers 11, Cubs 5
Rucker gets the start
Right-hander Alec Mills was originally scheduled to start Tuesday at Surprise Stadium in the last Cactus League game. But the Cubs opted for a more controlled setting, having Mills instead throw at the team’s complex in Mesa.
Reliever Michael Rucker instead served as the starter in Surprise. He threw one inning, allowing one unearned run and two hits.
Hermosillo gets ‘O’ going
Though the score ended up being lopsided in the Rangers’ favor, the Cubs claimed an early lead. That was thanks to outfielder Michael Hermosillo, who hit a three-run home run in the first inning. It was his first homer of the spring, although he did hit one Little League home run earlier, which was technically a double and an error.
Nwogu goes long
Minor-leaguer Jordan Nwogu kept the outfield power going with a homer of his own.
Nwogu, whom the Cubs selected in the third round of the 2020 draft, went 2-for-3. He was the only Cub with multiple hits.
As is customary on the spring-training getaway day, the veterans got a couple of at-bats in, then got out. That, paired with the Cubs using eight relievers, each for no more than two innings at a time, made for a constant churn of new faces.
The Cubs and Rangers combined to put 56 players on the field.
The Cubs committed six errors, tripling the Rangers’ total.
Opening Day at Wrigley Field, Cubs vs. Brewers, 1:20 p.m. Thursday, Marquee, Kyle Hendricks vs. Corbin Burnes.