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'Ready to rock': Zobrist makes spring debut

Veteran one of four possible leadoff hitters; Morrow sees first action with Cubs
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MESA, Ariz. -- Ben Zobrist made his spring debut for the Cubs on Tuesday and went 0-for-3. It's a first step.

Zobrist, who had been slowed because of soreness in his back, batted leadoff and is one of at least four candidates for the No. 1 spot in the Cubs' lineup.

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MESA, Ariz. -- Ben Zobrist made his spring debut for the Cubs on Tuesday and went 0-for-3. It's a first step.

Zobrist, who had been slowed because of soreness in his back, batted leadoff and is one of at least four candidates for the No. 1 spot in the Cubs' lineup.

View Full Game Coverage

Spring Training information

"When I first saw him when he came to camp, I have not seen him look this good in a long time," manager Joe Maddon said of the 36-year-old infielder/outfielder. "I think he's got his mental edge back. Two consecutive trips to the World Series as a winner is not easy to do and then almost again last year. I think he's been refreshed.

"I think he's ready to rock and roll, and I think you'll see a younger mental version of Zo."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Maddon has experimented with four players in the leadoff spot this spring. So far, Jason Heyward is 1-for-6 in two games batting leadoff, Albert Almora Jr. is 0-for-7 in three games there and Ian Happ is 8-for-17 with four homers, two doubles and seven RBIs in six games in the No. 1 spot.

"[Happ] could be hitting ninth and he'd be doing the same thing," Maddon said. "He's just motivated. He's done a great job there because he's hit home runs. You're normally looking at getting on base, seeing pitches -- that's the more attractive thing.

"For the most part, he's gotten off to a great start and the ball's going out of the yard. He looks good at the plate, he's not missing his pitch, he's running well and his defense has been good too."

Brandon Morrow made his Cubs debut Tuesday in a 9-5 win over his former team, the Dodgers, in front of a sellout crowd at Sloan Park. Morrow gave up one unearned run on two hits in one inning.

The Cubs scored six runs in the first inning on RBI singles by Willson Contreras and Addison Russell, a two-run double by Javier Baez and a two-run homer by Almora. Almora also robbed Chris Taylor of a potential hit with a tumbling catch in the third.

• For the record, Cubs infielder Tommy La Stella did not take one of the parking spaces reserved for the front office Tuesday.

"Everybody's got their parking spots today -- for now," La Stella said.

La Stella has been parking his rental car in one of the spaces reserved for the Cubs front office and on Monday, general manager Jed Hoyer got some revenge by hiding the infielder's uniform. La Stella ended up wearing a front-office type outfit -- khakis and a striped polo shirt -- during the morning stretch and drills.

La Stella started his parking manuevering this spring by taking president of baseball operations Theo Epstein's spot. He wanted to see what happened, and each day, La Stella would switch.

"They always get the best parking spots," La Stella said.

• Lefty Mike Montgomery will get a start in one of the Cubs' upcoming split-squad games. The Cubs have split-squad games Saturday against the White Sox and the Dodgers and then March 13 against the Padres and Giants. Montgomery was an option for the rotation but that was before the team signed Yu Darvish in February.

Injury updates: Reliever Pedro Strop, who has been out with a sore left calf, threw a bullpen session Tuesday and could pitch in a game this weekend.

Up next: Jose Quintana will make his second Cubs start Wednesday in a night game against the Indians in Goodyear. The lefty was 7-3 with a 3.74 ERA in 14 starts for the Cubs last season. The game will be broadcast on MLB.TV and MLB Network, starting at 7:05 p.m. CT.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Brandon Morrow, Ben Zobrist