For the first time this season, and the second time since trading Yu Darvish to the Padres after the 2020 season, the Cubs faced him on Monday. It was Darvish’s first time facing his former team at Wrigley Field.
“I think swinging at strikes is the key,” Cubs manager David Ross said of facing Darvish. “Getting him in the middle of the plate. And he’s got a lot of different looks, a lot of different sliders. I think we know him pretty well from that standpoint and what the mix looks like.
“But he’s got to throw over the plate, and we still have to stay committed to our approach. So, I think the key to that is making him throw strikes and getting something up in the zone.”
Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki, however, will have to wait for his first at-bat against his friend.
Suzuki leaned on Darvish for advice as he went through free agency this spring, transitioning from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. But Darvish didn’t pitch in the series between the Cubs and Padres in San Diego earlier this year, and Suzuki is now on the 10-day IL with a sprained left ring finger.
Suzuki, however, said he was still excited for Monday’s matchup.
“I’ve never seen pitching in a live game before,” Suzuki said through interpreter Toy Matsushita. “So, I’m looking forward to it.”
Steele shakes it off
The Cubs avoided disaster in the first inning Monday, after lefty Justin Steele tried to barehand a comebacker hit by Padres No. 2 hitter Jake Cronenworth.
Cubs manager David Ross and a couple athletic trainers joined Steele on the mound to examine his throwing hand. But he stayed in the game. He retired the next seven batters in a row.
The Cubs rotation is already short, with three starters on the 15-day IL: Wade Miley (left shoulder strain), Marcus Stroman (right shoulder inflammation) and Drew Smyly (right oblique strain).
The Cubs have yet to announce their starter for Wednesday.
Tornado sirens blared from multiple directions, and the sky to the North of Wrigley Field turned an ominous dark gray-green, pushing back the start time for the Cubs’ series opener against the Padres on Monday.
After a delay of one hour and 25 minutes, the teams took the field, promising a late night on the North Side.
The Cubs’ luck with the weather hasn’t improved much since a chilly first couple months of games in Chicago. Last week, they had one of two games in Baltimore rained out.
The Cape Cod Baseball League announced their 2022 Hall of Fame class over the weekend, and it included some familiar names. Cubs right-hander Marcus Stroman (Orleans) and outfielder Ian Happ (Harwich) will be among the inductees.
“Beyond honored!” Stroman posted to Twitter with the announcement.
The ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 12 in Harwich,Massachusetts.