Chicago Cubs Lineup (2/23/24): Happ Leads Off, Morel at 3B, Mervis at 1B, Wicks Starts Cactus League Opener

Chicago Cubs baseball is on the air! The Cubs and Sox open their respective Cactus League slates this afternoon as Jordan Wicks gets the start against old friend Jesse Chavez. The 40-year-old two-time former Cub will be making his first appearance in a White Sox uniform as he nears the end of a pinball career that has seen him play for 10 different teams across what I believe is 20 total stints.

This should go without saying, but after the way people freaked out about Dominic Smith and David Peralta it seems worthwhile to note that the results of this game do not matter in the least. Wicks could go out and give up five dongs to dudes wearing see-through pants and it’s not at all indicative of his future on the roster or his overall performance. With these early games in particular, there are goals other than winning or putting up good box score numbers.

Several pitchers may be trying to dial in grip or other mechanical changes, which could lead to control or contact issues. All that said, it’d still be nice to see the bespectacled lefty go out there and shove against a White Sox team that has largely been overlooked due to its ownership’s very public wrangling for public money in the wake of a very disappointing season and lackluster winter.

Craig Counsell‘s first lineup features Ian Happ leading off in left, followed by Christopher Morel at third, Miguel Amaya behind the plate, and Matt Mervis at first base. Alexander Canario is in right, Pete Crow-Armstrong is in center, Luis Vázquez is at short, and Joe Hudson is the DH. Matt Shaw gets the start at second base, batting ninth.

I’m not sure how much we should read into this because some of it might just be ensuring early PAs for experienced players, but it’s worth monitoring Happ in the leadoff spot. He was among the league leaders in walks and had a .360 OBP last season, making him well-suited to the role. More batting second is almost certainly about getting him quick looks.

As always, you can expect the lineup to turn over after a time or two through the order because the veterans need to get out to the golf course and Craig Counsell needs to see what he’s got. The good news is that he’s got a bunch of prospects who will get plenty of run over the next few weeks. The bad news is that, barring a shocking move, Cody Bellinger won’t be one of the vets being replaced by a young up-and-comer.

But hey, there’s still time to make it happen.

First pitch is at 2:05pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.

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