Cubs open with Brewers, end with Sox
Is it Sept. 25 yet?
If the 2020 baseball season reaches that date, the Cubs will visit the White Sox for the opener of a three-game series to end the regular season. No matter how the teams fare in a 60-game campaign shortened and delayed by the coronavirus, that would be, in itself, a real victory.
If playoff hopes are on the line? So much the better.
The Cubs’ schedule, released Monday, features seven games apiece at Wrigley Field against the rival Brewers and Cardinals, with only three road games against each of those foes. The Cubs and Brewers open the season with a three-game series July 24-26 in Chicago.
The balance is flipped against the Reds and Pirates, with the Cubs playing seven times each in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
Of course, location means only so much when the stands are empty. Like many other teams, the Cubs are hoping to be able to offer limited seating to fans at some point this summer.
Also on the schedule are six games — three on each side of town — against the Sox, four games each (two home, two away) against the Indians and Royals and three games each against the Tigers (away) and Twins (home).
All 60 games are against National League Central or American League Central teams as Major League Baseball aims to minimize travel for health and safety reasons.
Ten percent of them against the Sox? Not bad.
‘‘It’s exciting,’’ manager David Ross said. ‘‘It’s the crosstown rivalry, so to speak, and it’s convenient for us. We get to sleep in our own beds at night. We can set up things, if we need to, where we can work out here and drive over, like you would in an Arizona spring training. There’s a lot of options that we have for us that we can do with an in-town team, so I feel like that’s definitely a luxury.’’
There are six days off built into the schedule. Some of them likely won’t be luxuries but rather makeup days for rainouts.
And for the first time in Cubs history, there are no Friday afternoon games on the home schedule. All six Friday home games will be at night.
A critical stretch for the Cubs will begin Aug. 13 with the longest homestand of the season — 10 games in 11 days — against the Brewers, Cardinals and Sox. It will be followed immediately by the longest road trip — nine games in 11 days — to Detroit, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
Not the Ryan express
Left-handed reliever Kyle Ryan has not been with the Cubs because of a ‘‘processed-based’’ testing delay. He has been working remotely, threw live batting practice Saturday, has a bullpen session scheduled for Tuesday and, the Cubs hope, will join his teammates at Wrigley before the end of the week. Ryan’s delay was not believed to be related to a positive test.
The Cubs will play three exhibition games leading into Opening Day: July 19 against the Sox at Wrigley, July 20 against the Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field and July 22 against the Twins at Wrigley.
The Cubs’ Javy Baez is congratulated by teammates after scoring a run against the Sox last season at Guaranteed Rate Field.