Zastryzny and Montgomery get openers
Left-hander Rob Zastryzny and Mike Montgomery will take the mound as the Cubs face the Giants and A’s on Saturday in their first spring training games. Zastryzny get the ball agains the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium and Montgomery faces the A’s at Sloan Park. RH Jake Buchanan gets the starting nod against the Indians on Sunday and Joe Maddon sends LH Brett Anderson to the hill on Monday as the White Sox visit Sloan Park.
Zastryzny was the Cubs second-round pick out of the University of Missouri in 2013 and made the rise through the system. Injuries in 2015 slowed Zastryzny’s development but he logged a career-high 135.2 innings last year between Tennessee and Iowa, and made his big league debut for the Cubs. Zastryzny is likely to start the season in the rotation in Iowa but may force his way onto the 25-man roster working out of the bullpen.
Montgomery will always be known for the guy who got the final out in Game 7 of the World Series and recorded his first major league save. Penciled in as the fifth starter, Montgomery looks to fill the void left by the departure of Jason Hammel. The 27-year-old was acquired from the Mariners before the trade deadline last summer for minor leaguers 1B Daniel Vogelbach and RHP Paul Blackburn. Montgomery made five starts for the Cubs after the trade and appeared in 17 games, logging 38.1 innings while holding hitters to a .217 mark.
If Anderson wants to contribute to the Cubs in 2017, he’s going to need to stay healthy, a problem that’s nagged the left-hander his entire pro career. Signed to a one-year $3.5 million deal back in January, the 29-year-old is currently in a battle for the fifth spot in the rotation with Montgomery. If Anderson can’t crack the rotation, he may end up in the bullpen in the role similar to what Travis Wood has done the past two seasons, minus the play in the left field or any homers off the bat. He owns a 58.9 ground ball percentage in his career, the second-highest mark among active pitchers since the start of the 2009 campaign— a perfect fit with the Cubs infield defense.
After six seasons in the Astros organization, including two stints in the majors, Houston released Buchanan last March and the Cubs signed the 27-year-old to a minor league deal. After a solid season at Iowa where he made 22 starts and logged 141 innings, the Cubs added the right-hander to the 40-man roster and promoted him to Chicago in September. He should be part of the rotation in Iowa.
The I-Cubs open the season at Oklahoma City as they face the Dodgers’ AAA affiliate in the five-game series. The Cubs return to Des Moines for the home opener at 6:35 p.m. On Tuesday, April 11 against the New Orleans Baby Cakes. Iowa battle the Brewers affiliate for four games (April 11-14) and then entertain Round Rock (Rangers) for a three-game set........The I-Cubs have an excellent promotion for children under 13, the Iowa Cubs Knothole Gang. For $15 you get admittance to 10 Sunday games, free soft drink and frozen treat at each game, Knothole Gang t-shirt, membership card, and a free Knothole Gang clinic on July 1 with the Iowa Cubs players. Here’s the link for more details.
The Smokies open the 2017 campaign with a five-game series in Pensacola from April 6-10. After a travel day, Tennessee holds its home opener on Wednesday, April 12 against Mississippi. The Braves AA affiliate is in town for five games, including a doubleheader on Saturday, April 15. The White Sox AA team is in town from April 17-21 and should feature some of the South Siders top prospects......Former Smokies manager Tony LaRussa has been named to the Southern League Hall of Fame. LaRussa coached in Knoxville in 1978-79 when they were a White Sox affiliate.
High A Myrtle Beach
The Pelicans don’t have their home opener until April 13 when they host Lynchburg in the first of four games. The season begins in Lynchburg with a four game set with the Indians affiliate and then head to Blues Creek to battle the Astros in their first season in the Carolina League. Fans at Ticketreturn.com Field will get a chance to see the Pelicans as they face Charleston, the Yankees Class A team in the South Atlantic League in an exhibition game on April 5......The Pelicans are holding National Anthem tryouts on March 14. Registration for the event will be from 5:00-6:00 p.m. at the ballpark at Gate 1. The event will take place rain or shine, and anyone wishing to tryout should arrive during that time. All ages are welcome to try out and all who are registered will get a chance to audition. However, a tryout does not guarantee a spot to perform during the season. For more information, please contact the Pelicans Front Office at 843-918-6077.
Low A South Bend
South Bend opens the 2017 season at West Michigan on April 6 for a two-game series and then return home to battle the Whitecaps in a two-game set at Four Winds Field (April 7-8). The B_Cubs have announced John Vincent will sing the National Anthem for the home opener of April 8. The home opener features give-a-ways of a 50-inch flat screen TV every inning, magnetic schedules to first 2,000 fans through the gates and a post-game fireworks show......South Bend has announced that individual game tickets will go on sale on March 8. Here’s more info: