Feb 19, 2014; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) takes part in a fielding drill during a workout at Cubs Park. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Cubs Park to Debut; Samadrzija to Start Opener

Spring Training starts for the Cubs Thursday, as the team will host the Arizona Diamondbacks at the brand-new Cubs Park in Mesa, Ariz. Jeff Samardzija will start, and will try to get off to a good start, despite the trade rumors surrounding him.

Along with Samardzija, some new Cubs will play their first game with the team. The most notable player will be Infielder Emilio Bonifacio, who will be the team’s Second Baseman. Prospect Mike Olt will put on a Cubs jersey for the first time after playing with the Iowa Cubs for 39 games last season. Olt will be Designated Hitter.

The team almost left Mesa, but thanks in part to the Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, a new ballpark was built and the team stayed.

None of the “Core Four” prospects will start on Thursday, as Albert Almora, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant will sit on the bench for the first game. “I think all of us are really looking forward to seeing those guys out there,” Manager Rick Renteria said in an interview with MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat . “As the spring progresses and we’re able to get them in there and let them get a feel for facing Major League players, I think it’ll be good for everybody.”

Samardzija has been linked in trade rumors recently, and if no deal is done before the season he will be one of the hottest trade targets mid-season. Samardzija’s trade rumors were spotlighted by Co-Editor Jordan Campbell, an article that you can read here.

The entire Spring Training schedule can be viewed on the Cactus League’s official website. A ticket map and aerial view of Cubs Park can be seen here, and it is key to note that the field is extremely similar to Wrigley Field shape-wise. The dimensions of Cubs Park are actually longer than Wrigley Field’s

Tags: Chicago Cubs Cubs Park Jeff Smardzija

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