Ross, Marquee ready to make their debuts

February 21st, 2020

MESA, Ariz. -- Rain washed away the first planned night game in Cubs history in 1988. A rain delay played a famous role in Chicago washing away its World Series drought four years ago. Now, rain is putting the start of the David Ross managerial era on hold, but hopefully only for a few hours.

On Friday, the Cubs announced that Saturday's Cactus League opener against the A's has been pushed back to 7:10 p.m. CT due to inclement weather expected in the morning and into the afternoon. When the rain passes and the game begins, Ross will be at the helm for his first game as manager of the Cubs.

"Getting started in the games, that's the fun part for me," Ross said. "We get to actually put our spikes on and get out there and compete against a team on the other side and watch guys get innings in."

While Ross would not reveal his entire lineup, the manager did note that and are the planned Nos. 1-2 hitters for the night game against Oakland. Moving Bryant to the leadoff spot and Rizzo to the two-hole is a new strategy that Ross wants to test this spring and use in the upcoming season.

Saturday also marks the launch of the Marquee Sports Network, the new home of the Cubs.

Right-hander will get the start for the Cubs, beginning his quest to earn the lone vacancy at the back of the rotation. The front-runner for that job is righty , who is the probable starter for Sunday's game against the Dodgers. If Chatwood wins the job, Mills would be in the mix for the swing-man role that Chatwood held last year.

"To see what Chatwood did last year in that role, he had a great year," Mills said. "He shoved and it was really fun to watch. For him to be able to do that, I know that's not an easy role. If that's something that I was asked to do, I think I could learn some things that he did and watch him."

Worth noting

said he is scheduled to throw live batting practice within the "next couple days." Kimbrel and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy have mapped out a conservative throwing program so far in camp, and the closer will be eased into Cactus League appearances.

"Craig will be on his own program," said Ross, who noted that falls into the same category. "Guys are throwing sides in different areas just for our different purposes. Tommy kind of plans all that stuff out. But yeah, it'll be a little bit before you see Craig probably in a game."

• Ross also plans on being cautious with outfielder , who missed all of 2019 due to a severe left knee injury. Souza has been taking part in regular batting practice and morning workouts, and was signed to potentially be a versus-lefties platoon bat for the corner outfield spots.

"A whole year without at-bats is a real hurdle for me," Ross said. "His swings look great in BP. His live BP, he hit a home run the other day. Looks good. Moving well in the outfield. He's a guy that I want to kind of slow play, too, and make sure he's healthy in his knee. But, he could get significant at-bats out there."

reached the Major Leagues with the Cubs last year, overcoming several years of injury setbacks. Hultzen (non-roster invitee) is vying for a spot in Chicago's bullpen, but Ross said the lefty must show he can handle a reliever's workload.

"His story's great, right?" Ross said. "His main thing is how to bounce back when he's in that bullpen role that you put guys in, and how taxing that can be on a guy and their body. And how he holds up is really going to be a big determination, because his stuff's real."

is competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster as a third catcher (via the 26th roster spot). Without a true catcher like Phegley aboard, Ross said the emergency catching option would be .