Cubs: Here is David Ross’ first 2021 Cactus League starting lineup

Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports /

Chicago Cubs baseball is back!

The North Siders kick off their 2021 Cactus League slate on Monday afternoon in Arizona, taking on the San Diego Padres at Peoria Stadium. Of course, these two teams hooked up on a blockbuster trade during the offseason – sending NL Cy Young runner-up Yu Darvish to San Diego in exchange for Zach Davies and a package of prospects.

Heading into the 2021 season, the Cubs don’t feel like a reigning division champion, but that’s what they are. With three key players on the brink of free agency, no one knows what the roster will wind up looking like by the end of the season.

So we’ll have plenty to talk about and watch this year. But today, let’s just celebrate the return of Cubs baseball. Here’s how David Ross will line them up this afternoon.

Now, we had previously heard Kyle Hendricks will get the ball for the Cubs on Monday (and presumably, Opening Day, as well). This early in the spring, lineups don’t really matter all that much. It’s about getting guys back into the flow of things, seeing regular reps and experiencing in-game action (with fans) for the first time in essentially a year.

I’ll be keeping an eye on Ildemaro Vargas and David Bote, both of whom are in the mix for the second base job this spring. Bote, who has long been a better bench player than starter, is looking to beat out Vargas and former top prospect Nico Hoerner for the job in what’s essentially the only position battle at camp this spring.

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We’ll get our first look at new left fielder Joc Pederson in a Cubs uniform, as well. Chicago brought in Pederson this offseason to replace the non-tendered Kyle Schwarber – and lured him to the Windy City by promising him the opportunity to work through his struggles against lefties.