The Cubs will welcome fans back to Wrigley Field in 2021, the team announced today. They have been approved by the city to fill the stadium to 20 percent capacity, beginning on opening day. “In coordination with MLB, top health experts and local officials, we developed a comprehensive plan that prioritizes the health and safety of our players, staff and fans,” said Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney. “Our goal is to create a safe, clean and friendly environment for everyone to enjoy Cubs baseball beginning Opening Day.” The Cubs will require masks for patrons two-years-old and above while hosting pod-style seating and practicing social distancing.
On the other side of town, the White Sox will be allowed up to 8,122 patrons per game while practicing social distancing, per Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times (via Twitter). The Southsiders home opener will be on April 8th. That means every team except for the Blue Jays will have at least a limited number of fans in the seats this season, notes Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Now, the latest in roster news from the Central…
- The Brewers are facing a roster crunch at the end of the bench. It’s a side effect of the Jackie Bradley Jr. signing, writes MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Pablo Reyes and Derek Fisher have impressed manager Craig Counsell so far, notes McCalvy. Manny Pina and Avisail Garcia are locks to be a member of the bench, which probably only leaves two spots. Assuming Travis Shaw makes the roster, that puts one of Shaw, Orlando Arcia, and Luis Urias on the bench as well. Daniel Robertson has been viewed as a favorite to win that final bench spot, in part because the infielder is out of options. Daniel Vogelbach is also out of options and on the 40-man roster. The big first baseman brings a limited, though valuable skill-set as a power bat off the bench. Of those players on the 40-man roster, Fisher, Jace Pederson, and Billy McKinney are also out of options, giving the Brewers much to think about as we inch closer to April 1.
- Milwaukee may have a little bit of extra time to decide on that final roster spot, however. Lorenzo Cain hasn’t played in a week because of a quad issue, and there’s a chance he won’t be ready in time for opening day, per McCalvy (via Twitter). There’s still hope that he’ll be ready from the jump, but if not, the Brewers could roll with Bradley Jr. in center and Garcia in right, while taking the extra time to evaluate someone from their out-of-options pool.
- Pirates manager Derek Shelton won’t spend much time thinking about who might claim the closer role until the last few days of camp, per the Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel. Said Shelton, “We have a guy who we know can go to the back end and do it in Richie (Rodríguez), who did it last year, so I’m really not thinking about it.” That certainly sounds like Richard Rodriguez has the inside track on the job. There will certainly be enough bodies to choose from, as the Pirates plan to break camp with eight or nine relievers, notes Biertempfel. That said, there aren’t a lot of proven late-inning options to immediately wrench the role from Rodríguez. Kyle Crick is the most obvious challenger, with Chris Stratton perhaps snagging an opportunity or two after striking out close to 30 percent of hitters last season.