|CHICAGO CUBS ( SAMARDZIJA )|
PITTSBURGH ( LIRIANO )
|901||CHICAGO CUBS||+155||Ov 7,-110||+165||Ov 7,+110|
|902||PITTSBURGH||-165||Un 7,-110||-175||Un 7,-130|
|3/31/2014||SAMARDZIJA(R)||@ PITTSBURGH||LIRIANO(L)|| |
|4/2/2014||JACKSON(R)||@ PITTSBURGH||MORTON(R)|| |
|4/3/2014||HAMMEL(R)||@ PITTSBURGH||RODRIGUEZ(L)|| |
|3/31/2014||LIRIANO(L)||CHICAGO CUBS||SAMARDZIJA(R)|| |
|4/2/2014||MORTON(R)||CHICAGO CUBS||JACKSON(R)|| |
|4/3/2014||RODRIGUEZ(L)||CHICAGO CUBS||HAMMEL(R)|| |
|4/4/2014||COLE(R)||ST LOUIS||MILLER(R)|| |
|4/5/2014||LIRIANO(L)||ST LOUIS||KELLY(R)|| |
|4/6/2014||VOLQUEZ(R)||ST LOUIS||WAINWRIGHT(R)|| |
|CHICAGO CUBS: CHICAGO (AP) - Wrigley Field is decked out for the party of a century.|
As for the Chicago Cubs?
It looks like there won't be much to celebrate this season other than their ballpark's 100th anniversary. As Wrigley hits a milestone, the Cubs remain in a rebuilding mode, hoping to avoid their fifth straight losing season.
They have a new manager in Rick Renteria. Their outlook looks about the same, though.
It's all about the future, the prized prospects in the system, no matter how painful that might be to the players in uniform at the major league level. More lumps appear to be in store for the Cubs as they enter their third year with Theo Epstein as president of baseball operations.
''The objective is to win as many games as possible, be the last man standing and bring a championship to the city of Chicago,'' pitcher Edwin Jackson said. ''The motivation is still the same. The message is still the same. We want to go out and win. We don't want to go out and be a pushover.''
|PITTSBURGH: PITTSBURGH (AP) - The roars have faded. The giddiness of ending 21 years of futility and coming with a game of the National League championship series, too.|
The Pittsburgh Pirates are in some ways just another NL contender these days. That dark cloud of two decades of losing is gone after a remarkable 94-68 surge and the playoff berth that came along with it in 2013.
Now the franchise needs to figure out what to do with the rest of its life. For three seasons a club that was a laughingstock when manager Clint Hurdle took over in December 2010 has slowly made inroads to relevance.
Suddenly, the ''World Series or bust'' attitude owner Bob Nutting has espoused for years doesn't seem so laughable anymore.
Press reigning NL Manager of the Year Clint Hurdle on what his team can possibly do for an encore despite a relatively quiet offseason and he responds with his usual eternal optimism.
''Excellence is verb, not a noun,'' Hurdle said. ''You're going to continue to push forward. Our goal is to win a sixth world championship. The fact is, we haven't won an LCS or a division series. We need to maintain our focus on the things we need to do.''
|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PA SPORTSTICKER NL PREVIEW (CHICAGO CUBS-PITTSBURGH) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ |
*Cubs-Pirates Preview* ======================
By WILL GRAVES AP Sports Writer
Chicago (0-0) at Pittsburgh (0-0), 1:05 p.m. EDT
PITTSBURGH (AP) - The family reunion will be short. Whether it will be sweet hardly matters. At last, the wounds of 21 years of futility have finally started to heal.
One magical summer took care of all that.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates take the field for Monday's opener against the rebuilding Chicago Cubs, they'll do it without the burden of two decades of losing. They'll do it with the momentum that comes after the best season in a generation, and something just as valuable as they try to prove their breakout 2013 was no fluke: legitimate optimism.
"I feel very confident about the hunger in the room, the focus on getting better," manager Clint Hurdle said. "These guys work hard and they have a lot of fun. It's a unique combination to be a part of."
One last bit of housekeeping awaits for the Pirates (94-68) before 2014 begins. In a nod to the club's storied past and its promising present, two familiar faces will provide some closure on a breathtaking season when Barry Bonds and Jim Leyland present their current-day counterparts with a little hardware.
Bonds will hand star center fielder Andrew McCutchen the 2013 NL MVP Award. Leyland will do the same for Hurdle, the 2013 NL Manager of the Year.
Leyland remains a beloved figure 18 years after his departure. Bonds, whose decision to leave Pittsburgh for San Francisco following the 1992 season marked the start of the darkest era in Pirates history, does not.
Though their reception might be mixed, their presence will serve as a symbolic closing of one of the most ignominious chapters in the history of professional sports.
Finally, baseball is back in Pittsburgh. And the current group of Pirates plans to keep it that way.
"This is a group that has come together," Hurdle said. "They know what they want, they know the sacrifice they have to make to get there. They don't overcook things mentally and they're pretty good at moving on from minor disappointments or setbacks."
Perhaps it's fitting then, that the player who exemplified Pittsburgh's resurgence in 2013 will take the mound in the opener. Last spring, left-hander Francisco Liriano (16-8, 3.02 ERA) was rehabilitating a broken right arm and wondering if the mechanical changes to his delivery would ever pay off.
He was outstanding during the regular season, had two more solid starts in the playoffs and begins 2014 elevated to the role of ace after veteran A.J. Burnett bolted for Philadelphia in free agency.
It's a position Liriano does not take for granted after spending five years trying to regain the form he flashed before Tommy John surgery derailed his career in 2007.
"It's an honor," Liriano said. "I just want to stay calm and try to go as deep in the game as I can."
While most preseason predictions have the Pirates still in the mix in the highly competitive NL Central, the Cubs have replaced Pittsburgh as the team moored at the bottom of the standings. Chicago hasn't finished above .500 in five years, the club's longest streak of futility since 1985-88.
Though President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein's project remains very much a work in progress, the Cubs (66-96) have some building blocks, including opening day starter Jeff Samardzija (8-13, 4.34). The right-hander pitched eight innings of two-hit ball while beating Pittsburgh in the opener last year, though it did little to prevent Chicago from a miserable April that doomed it to another also-ran finish.
Although the Cubs allow they have some catching up to do, they're not exactly planning on playing down to diminished expectations.
"We're going to stick with the positive mentality," pitcher Jason Hammel said. "It's a big year for everybody. We're not going to pay attention to what everybody else says. We know what we have in this clubhouse and we're just going to keep pushing each other and picking each other up. We have very high expectations for ourselves and that's just the way it is. If we get off on a good roll, who knows what can happen?"
|Last Updated: 11/24/2017 9:48:26 PM EST|