Cubs return to Wrigley for home opener as snow falls across Chicago area

MILWAUKEE, WI – APRIL 08: Victor Caratini #7 of the Chicago Cubs is congratulated by teammates after scoring a run during the seventh inning of a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on April 8, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

CHICAGO — In some ways, it already felt like the team was at home, considering the usually strong contingent of fans who made the short drive north.

“Half of the crowd, was here, more than half,” said Cubs catcher Willson Contreras of the majority of the fans cheering for his team over the Brewers the past four days at Miller Park.

Yet even with the pro-Cubs crowd over the course of four games in Milwaukee, it’s not quite Wrigley. The Friendly Confines will always win out over any other venue – even if the climate control of the dome would have come in handy on Monday.

“Just thinking about Wrigley Field, makes me feel way better than going away,” said Contreras – and finally he along with his teammates will see the wait come to an end.

After nine games on the road – four in Miami, one in Cincinnati, and four in Milwaukee, the Cubs return to the Friendly Confines for the first time on Monday to face the Pirates. Joe Maddon’s team had to wait longer than any other to open the home slate this season, with every other squad in Major League Baseball having already played a game at home this year.

Hence the manager is a little more than anxious to finally get the home schedule going.

“We’ve been going after this for a while a bit on the road,” said Maddon, whose team went from Arizona Spring Training to Lee County, Florida to face the Red Sox in two exhibition games before a week-and-a-half of regular season play away from Chicago. “We played a really good Milwaukee team in their home. Miami played us tough down there and Cincinnati, just awkward weather.

“But it’s time to get home, time to get it rolling at home and it’s a good thing.”

The Cubs time under Maddon says this to be so, since the Cubs have been well over the .500 mark in his tenure at Wrigley Field. They were 48-33 last season and that was the worst of it, especially having gone 57-24 the year before and 49-32 in 2015.

During the last two seasons the Cubs have won their home opener – beating the Reds in 2016 on an 8th inning homer by Addison Russell, then the 2017 game against the Dodgers on a walk-off hit by Anthony Rizzo.

This year doesn’t promise the same drama but it will be chilly – with temperatures around middle 30s at first pitch (1:20 p.m.) with winds blowing in and rain/snow possible.

Up to an inch accumulation is anticipated, and snow should taper off by late morning. Some scattered rain and snow showers are expected for this afternoon.

Not that it bothers Ben Zobrist, who frankly is just happy to be home after being away for nearly two months.

“It’s feels like it’s been a long time since Spring Training, we’ve been on the road for a while,” said the utility player, who will take part in his third home opener in Chicago. “Looking forward to the opening day tomorrow. I’m sure, even thought it will be cold, there will be a lot of people excited for that at Wrigley.”

Especially the guys taking the field.



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