With pitchers and catchers set to report in less than a month to the brand new Cubs Park training facility, how will the Opening Day roster shape up for the Chicago Cubs? The 2014 campaign will be the first for new manager Rick Renteria, and the roster will see a few changes from a season ago. In addition to the 25-man roster the Cubs will put out, fans will also be paying close attention to the progress of the AAA Iowa Cubs and AA Tennessee Smokies as those affiliates will contain a huge part of the future on the North side.
On Opening Day, the Cubs will first be making changes to two-thirds of their starting outfield from a season ago. Nate Schierholtz will be the lone holdover coming off a 21-home run season in his first year as a Cub. Other major changes will be found in the pitching staff. Chicago will already be replacing two starters in the rotation, and if they do decide to move Jeff Samardzija prior to camp breaking that would equal a third new arm among the starting five.
The bullpen is also projected to feature two new additions acquired during the offseason. Over the last two seasons the bullpen has been the major cause for concern in Wrigleyville with several leads getting away from the club late in ball games. Wesley Wright and Jose Veras will look to help improve a pen that suffered 26 blown saves a year ago. If the Cubs can turn their fortunes around in the final three innings of games it will lead to progression in the standings.
Barring no further moves made this winter, here is a projected look at the Cubs’ Opening Day 25-man roster season preview.
Starting Pitchers: Jeff Samardzija (RHP), Travis Wood (LHP), Edwin Jackson (RHP), Jake Arrieta (RHP), Chris Rusin (LHP)
Bullpen: Jose Veras (RHP), Pedro Strop (RHP), Blake Parker (RHP), Kyuji Fujikawa (RHP), Carlos Villanueva (RHP), Hector Rondon (RHP), James Russell (LHP), Wesley Wright (LHP)
Position Players: Welington Castillo (C), Anthony Rizzo (1B), Darwin Barney (2B), Starlin Castro (SS), Luis Valbuena (3B), Junior Lake (LF), Justin Ruggiano (CF), Nate Schierholtz (RF)
Bench: George Kottaras (C), Donnie Murphy (INF), Logan Watkins (INF), Ryan Sweeney (OF)
Nick Schaeflein is a Chicago Cubs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.