CHICAGO (MCT) — Trying to find reasons to watch the Cubs in the next four months is as difficult as getting a private-public funding partnership for an overhaul of Wrigley Field.
The Cubs are 10 games out of first place after their recent 12-game losing streak, and unlike 2011, the manager isn’t trying to pretend a miracle comeback is in the offing.
June is here, and the only real questions remaining are . . .
Will Ryan Dempster win another game?
Will Matt Garza successfully field a bunt?
And will Mayor Rahm Emanuel ever return Chairman Tom Ricketts’ phone calls?
Nevertheless, there’s a lot more baseball from now until Oct. 3.
For those who want to pick and choose when to pay attention, here’s a guide of what to look for the rest of the way:
June 4-6 draft: The Cubs have the sixth overall pick in the draft, which means they should get one of the country’s top prospects.
They have missed on a few in the past, however, when they have had a top 10 pick, selecting Jackie Davidson, Drew Hall, Derrick May, Ty Griffin, Earl Cunningham, Corey Patterson, Luis Montanez and Ryan Harvey. The jury still is out on Josh Vitters, the No. 3 pick in 2007.
The Cubs worked out left-hander Max Fried on Wednesday at Wrigley Field, with Ricketts and business chief Crane Kenney joining the scouting department on the field, along with the team psychologist.
June 8-20 Rizzo watch: The Cubs debut of top prospect Anthony Rizzo could come during interleague games in Minnesota (June 8-10) or on the South Side (June 18-20), when the Cubs can use first baseman Bryan LaHair as a designated hitter. Or they could continue waiting, pushing back Rizzo’s eligibility as a free agent.
June 15-17 Red Sox series: The Cubs already have a rallying cry for the match against President Theo Epstein’s former team — “Win One for the Foundation Builder of Sustained Success and Parallel Fronts.” It’s the one of the last marquee series of the season at Wrigley Field, and a chance for manager Dale Sveum to imagine what it would have been like if the Red Sox had chosen him as their manager instead of Bobby Valentine.
June 18-20 City Series: Though the White Sox swept them at Wrigley in May, there’s there’s still a chance to slow down their crosstown rivals. Jeff Samardzija is on schedule to face the Sox on June 20, and after hitting Paul Konerko in the face in his May 18 start, it will be a matchup that figures to get Hawk Harrelson’s blood boiling.
July 17-19 The Ozzie and Big Z show: There’s no certainty Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen will juggle his rotation after the All-Star break to ensure Carlos Zambrano will face the Cubs at Wrigley. There’s also no certainty the former Sox manager will reprise his traditional rant about rat sightings at Wrigley Field.
July 22 Santo Hall of Fame induction: Ron Santo finally gets his due when he enters the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Santo’s family and already enshrined teammates Billy Williams, Ernie Banks and Fergie Jenkins will be there for the big day.
July 31 trade deadline: Dempster and Garza are the Cubs’ biggest chips, and at least one, if not both, figure to be gone. The Cubs also will look for a taker for Alfonso Soriano, hoping his hot May continues into June and they don’t have to eat all of the remaining three years of his contract.
Sept. 1-30 playing out string: The Bears are back. Nothing to see here, pal. Keep moving.
Oct. 3 season finale: During his introductory news conference last October, Epstein said every season is “sacred.” But some are obviously more “sacred” than others, and the first year of the new regime will have been a learning experience for everyone. The Cubs will close out the season at home against the Astros and likely will pronounce the first stage of the rebuilding process a success.