By Doug Halberstadt
The first pitch of the 2010 Major League Baseball season will be thrown this Sunday evening (April 4). The New York Yankees will travel to Boston to take on their arch rival, the Boston Red Sox. Game time is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
The Cubs, White Sox and Brewers will have to wait until the following day, Monday (April 5), to begin their seasons. The Cleveland Indians will be on the South Side of Chicago to meet the Sox for a 1:05 p.m. game. The Cubs will open their season on the road in Atlanta to face the Braves. The first pitch for that game is scheduled for 3:10 p.m. The Colorado Rockies will be in Milwaukee for an early afternoon game. Depending on the weather, they’ll take to the field with the dome open or closed at 1:10 p.m.
Following Monday’s opener, the Cubs take Tuesday off, and then they wrap up their three-game series with the Braves with a pair of 5:10 p.m. games Wednesday and Thursday, April 7-8.
From Atlanta, the Cubs travel to Cincinnati for a three-game weekend series before they return to Wrigley for their home opener against the Brewers Monday, April 12, at 1:20 p.m.
The only new face Cubs fans should see starting on opening day is center fielder Marlon Byrd. He played the last three seasons with the Texas Rangers. His career batting average is .279, and he has hit a total of 60 home runs. The Cubs are hoping his home run numbers will improve by playing in Wrigley.
Byrd has been questioned about his size. He weighs in at 245 pounds. “I know a lot of writers and scouts who haven’t seen me play in the outfield don’t think I can play out there because of my size,” Byrd said. “When people see me play, they know I can play.”
Cubs Manager Lou Piniella has the utmost confidence in Byrd. “Marlon, he can go get the ball,” Piniella said. “He gets a good jump on it and has good hands. He’ll be our regular center fielder.”
I have my doubts about Byrd lasting all season. Last year, he played in 146 game for the Rangers. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if Byrd appears in 125 games for Chicago. After next Monday, he’ll only have 124 more to go. I hope he can make it.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the March 31-April 6, 2010 issue