CHICAGO — When Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon woke up Monday morning to snow-covered streets and sidewalks, he knew the April blast of winter wasn’t ideal for a home opener at Wrigley Field.
After Monday’s scheduled game against the Pittsburgh Pirates was initially delayed by an hour, continuing snow flurries throughout the morning and a snow-covered field prompted players to engage in snowball fights rather than preparing to play.
By late morning, the decision was made to push the Cubs’ Wrigley Field debut to Tuesday, which was originally scheduled for an off-day in the three-game series between the National League Central rivals.
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The Cubs remain the last team in the majors to not have played at home this season after opening the year with nine straight road games.
“I woke up and saw everything going on,” Maddon told reporters Monday, according to the Chicago Tribune. “I looked at the (weather) map and looked at (Tuesday) being an open date with a much better forecast, so I thought it would be the prudent thing, and we did it.”
The Cubs (5-4) and Pirates (7-2) will push their scheduled starters back a day. Tyler Chatwood (0-1, 1.50 ERA) will make his second start of the season and his Cubs’ Wrigley Field debut.
Chatwood allowed one earned run, six walks and four hits in six innings in his first start against Cincinnat while striking out four. Chatwood is 0-0 in two career starts against Pittsburgh with a 1.50 ERA.
Ivan Nova (0-1, 6.10 ERA) will make his third start of the season for the Pirates. Nova surrendered five runs in 5 1/3 innings during his last start against the Minnesota Twins when he struck out three and walked one. He is 2-1 in four career starts against the Cubs.
The Cubs will be without All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday. Rizzo has missed three straight games with soreness in his lower back. Rizzo was not in Monday’s lineup as utility man Ben Zobrist was scheduled to start at first before the game was postponed. Rizzo was to have been re-evaluated Tuesday morning before the Cubs determined it best to place him on the DL.
Tuesday’s scheduled off-day would have provided Rizzo with an extra day of rest before potentially returning Wednesday. But Maddon told reporters he is uncertain whether Rizzo will be ready to play Tuesday when the Cubs look to win for the fourth time in their past five games.
The Pirates look to extend what has been an impressive start after a series victory over the Cincinnati Reds, whom Pittsburgh beat 5-0 on Sunday behind Jameson Taillon’s 1-hitter.
But without the benefit of an off-day Tuesday, Pittsburgh will take the field for 13 straight days and 26 of the next 27.
Temperatures in Chicago are not expected to change dramatically until Wednesday, meaning the Pirates will continue to play in wintry conditions for at least another day.
But cold weather or not, the Pirates will look to stay hot.
“We’ve been able to have success with what we’ve been doing,” pitcher Trevor Williams told reporters on Friday, according to mlb.com.
Williams suggested holding on for another three days in Chicago might be worth waiting for as Pittsburgh’s next road trip will be a warm one.
“I think all of us are ready to get to Miami,” he said.