Cubs announce schedule for Ryne Sandberg statue dedication ceremony

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — On the 40th anniversary of the “Sandberg Game,” sportscaster Bob Costas will yet again speak Ryne Sandberg’s name into a microphone when he delivers remarks at the Hall of Famer’s statue dedication outside of Wrigley Field.

The Cubs on Wednesday announced the schedule for the ceremony. Festivities are set to begin at 3 p.m. on June 23, before the Cubs play face the Mets on ESPN’s ‘‘Sunday Night Baseball.’’

Costas, who called Sandberg’s legendary 5-for-6 performance with two game-tying home runs against the Cardinals in 1984, is joined by Larry Bowa and Shawon Dunston, both of whom played with Sandberg, and team chairman Tom Ricketts on the list of scheduled speakers.

Sandberg is the fifth Cubs player to have a statue erected on Gallagher Way’s Statue Row, joining fellow Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo and Billy Williams.

After the unveiling of Sandberg’s statue, which is set to be broadcast live on Marquee Sports Network, Sandberg is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the Cubs’ 6:10 p.m. game.

Sandberg has been undergoing treatment for metastatic prostate cancer since January, including chemotherapy and radiation. But he announced three weeks ago that he had finished chemo and tests had come back with no detection of cancer.

Jorge López signs minor-league deal

About two weeks ago, right-hander reliever Jorge Lopez was ejected from a game, threw his glove into the stands, expressed his frustrations in a widely circulated postgame interview, and was designated for assignment by the Mets the next day.

On Wednesday, the Cubs signed him to a minor-league deal, satisfied with the background research they had done on the incident and Lopez himself.

Lopez became the involuntary spokesperson for the Mets’ struggles when he was misquoted as calling the Mets the “worst team in the whole [expletive] MLB” in that ill-fated interview. He later clarified that he said he looked like the worst teammate in MLB.

Lopez adds reliever depth to the Cubs’ organization, after posting a 3.76 ERA in 28 appearances for the Mets this season. His journeyman career included playing for Cubs manager Craig Counsell in Milwaukee.

Lineup switch up

Counsell shuffled the top of the Cubs’ batting order on Wednesday against the Rays, moving Christopher Morel to leadoff, Seiya Suzuki to cleanup, and Michael Busch to the two-hole.

“Just a little bit different look,” Counsell said. “And Christopher’s a presence right at the top of power and getting on base.”

Morel, in his third major-league season, always has been a power threat. But that on-base strength was a reflection of his development since his debut season. Even with a strong dose of bad luck on batted balls, Morel entered Wednesday with a .318 on-base percentage and 12.4% walk rate this season.

“He has been as good as anyone for us at the ball-strike and getting on base and creating walks and making good swing decisions,” Counsell said. “And that’s been a step forward.”

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