CHICAGO -- The Cubs are on the cusp of a new era. In less than a week, new manager Craig Counsell will begin making his mark on the franchise as Chicago’s pitchers and catchers start officially ramping up for the season ahead.
The North Siders stunned the baseball world at the outset of the offseason by luring Counsell away from the rival Brewers. The Cubs have made a handful of roster additions since that change, but expect the front office to keep looking for ways to fortify the roster as the ballclub aims to build a playoff-caliber unit.
In the meantime, here is what to know about Spring Training as the Cubs’ players and staff prepare to convene in Mesa, Ariz., for the next several weeks:
When is the first workout for pitchers and catchers?
While plenty of players are already on site in Arizona, the Cubs are scheduled to hold their first official workout for batterymates on Feb. 14.
What is the date of the first full-squad workout?
Position players are not required to join the fold until the Cubs hold their first official full-squad workout on Feb. 19.
Where is the team’s facility?
Sloan Park, the Cubs' home stadium for Spring Training, is located at 2330 W. Rio Salado Pkwy. in Mesa, Ariz. The team's training facility for both the Major League club and the Minor League affiliates is located just to the west of the ballpark on the same property.
Can fans attend workouts?
There is plenty of space for fans to line up around the two main practice fields across Clark St. on the west side of Sloan Park. There is a walking path from the practice complex to the stadium, giving fans a unique chance to see players up close as they make their way to the ballpark. The Minor League fields also have parking and fan access to see the club's prospects go through workouts and play games.
Who are some new faces fans should know?
The biggest addition to Chicago’s roster to date has been lefty Shota Imanaga, who was an ace in Japan with Yokohama and signed a four-year, $53 million deal with the Cubs. The North Siders also signed late-inning reliever Hector Neris (one-year, $9 million with an option for 2025) and swung a trade with the Dodgers to bring in slugging prospect Michael Busch (he will get a shot at the first base job) and veteran righty Yency Almonte.
The Cubs are still very much in the market for an impact bat -- especially to help against right-handed pitching -- and are always looking to add to their pitching depth.
Who are some of the top prospects invited to Major League camp?
Outfield prospect Owen Caissie (No. 47 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list), shortstop Matt Shaw (No. 54) and catcher Pablo Aliendo will be in camp as non-roster invitees, and the team’s 40-man roster is full of players on Pipeline’s most recent Top 30 prospects list for Chicago.
That group includes center fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong (No. 1), Busch (No. 3), outfielder Kevin Alcántara (No. 5), righty Ben Brown (No. 6), LHP Jordan Wicks (No. 10), righty Michael Arias (No. 12), first baseman Matt Mervis (No. 13), outfielder Alexander Canario (No. 14), outfielder Brennen Davis (No. 19), shortstop Luis Vazquez (No. 21), righty Caleb Kilian (No. 23), lefty Luke Little (No. 25), and righty Porter Hodge (No. 26).
Caissie (No. 4), Shaw (No. 7) and Aliendo No. 27 are also on that list (an updated Top 30 for the Cubs will be released this spring). Pipeline did reveal its new Top 100 prospect list for all of baseball and the North Siders led the way with seven players in the rankings.
When is the first Cactus League game for the Cubs?
The Cubs open their Cactus League slate against their cross-town rivals with a 2:05 p.m. CT clash with the White Sox at Sloan Park.
What are a few other notable spring games?
With Counsell now at the helm, the Cubs will have three meetings with the Brewers on Feb. 28 (road), March 12 (home), and March 23 (home). The Cubs will host each league’s reigning pennant winners in back-to-back games on March 17 (Rangers on the road) and March 19 (D-backs). Chicago gets its first look at the Dodgers on March 2 at Camelback Ranch.
What is Spring Breakout and when is the game?
Spring Breakout is a new four-day event that will showcase prospects from around baseball. The game’s future stars will square off in games across Arizona and Florida from March 14-17. For the Cubs, they will send their top prospects up against prospects for the White Sox in a 4:05 p.m. CT game on March 15 at Sloan Park.
Will the team’s games be televised?
Marquee Sports Network is planning on airing a majority of the Cubs’ spring games, but the details of the team’s preseason broadcast schedule have not yet been announced. Look for more information coming on that front soon.
When is the Cubs’ last game in Arizona?
The Cubs end their preseason schedule with back-to-back games against the rival Cardinals, who train in Florida. St. Louis is making the stop in Arizona on the way to Los Angeles before Opening Day against the Dodgers. The Cubs and Cards will play on March 25 (3:05 p.m. CT) and March 26 (2:05 p.m. CT) at Sloan Park.
What are the details for Opening Day?
After their two exhibition contests against the Cardinals, the Cubs will travel to Texas for an Opening Day meeting with the reigning World Series champions. The Cubs and Rangers will begin the season with a 6:35 p.m. CT tilt on March 28 at Globe Life Field. The clubs will play a three-game set before the Cubs head to Wrigley Field for their April 1 home opener against the Rockies.