Cubs battle hungry A’s in first spring training game

Khris Davis #2, Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Khris Davis
Khris Davis #2, Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Khris Davis /
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Chicago Cubs
Players, Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs take on the Oakland Athletics at Sloan Park, Mesa, Az., this week in the first spring training game of the season. An aggressive Athletics team looks to get in winning mode – early.

It’s here! We’ve waited patiently through the Super Bowl, winter meetings, impeachment, debates and primaries to get to our first game of spring training, which officially denotes that MLB is back in action!

The Chicago Cubs had nothing less than a tumultuous offseason, where fans waited with bated breath to see who the Chicago Cubs were going to pick up in free agency or trades to bring the team into 2020 under a brand new manager, David Ross. The last free agent the Cubs got serious with, the Athletics were also showing a substantial interest in Jason Kipnis. More on the Kipnis situation later.

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The Chicago Cubs might be easing into this first game with a lot of minor league players and a sprinkling of veterans. At least, that’s how former Cubs manager Joe Maddon and many MLB managers approached the first game of spring training. Think of it as shaking off the cobwebs of last season and getting the look, feel and taste of the game back in your soul.

The Athletics have finished the last two seasons with 97 wins and two unsuccessful trips to the Wild Card game. They are wildly hungry to do better and make a run through the postseason this year.

Their plan?

They want to get out of the gates early and win. They don’t want to play catch-up or bounce up and down in the standings. They want to set the pace during spring training and continue on through the regular season.  The hope is to avoid an MLB Wild Card game for the third year in a row and instead cruise right into the postseason. Brodie Brazil of NBC Sports Infinity recently spoke with A’s pitcher Liam Hendriks on the team’s expectations:

"“It’s getting out of the gates early,” Hendriks said. “We haven’t been able to bounce out early enough. We had a tepid couple of months, and then able to turn it on once our backs were against the wall. But we need to play like our backs are against the wall the entire season.”"

So even though the Chicago Cubs may be shaking off cobwebs and trying out their shiny, new personnel from the minors – there is still an expectation of winning. Will Ross go easy on his players as Maddon did during spring? Or will we see Ross going hard from the start?