Villanueva makes Cubs debut, Barney at DH

(Photo by Stephen Green)

Recent Cubs signee Carlos Villanueva will take the mound Monday, as the Cubs travel to meet the free-spending Dodgers at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz. Last year, the 29-year-old right-hander split time as a starter and a reliever for the Blue Jays, going 7-7 with a 4.16 ERA in 125.1 innings. He signed a two-year deal this offseason and will be vying for one of the final starting spots.

It will be all right-handed pitchers Monday as Jensen Lewis, Blake Parker, Michael Bowden, Robert Whitenack and Barret Loux are also scheduled to throw.

The position players will be a mix of regulars, fringe players and prospects. Welington Castillo (catcher), Darwin Barney (designated hitter), Nate Schierholtz (right field) and Scott Hairston (center field)—who all project to see significant time this season and will undoubtedly be on the Opening Day roster—are all in the lineup.

The versatile Luis Valbuena, who will continue to split time around the infield, will play second base Monday, while the athletic Junior Lake will get the start at the hot corner. Non-roster invitees Brad Nelson and Alberto Gonzalez will start at first base and shortstop, respectively.

Nelson hit .279 with 24 home runs and 81 RBI last season for Texas’ Triple-A squad. The 30-year-old slugger has hit 80 home runs over the last four minor league seasons. Gonzalez missed much of 2012 but hit .215 in 102 games for the Padres in 2011.

Non-roster invitee Darnell McDonald will start in left field. McDonald hit .205 in 88 at-bats with the Red Sox and Yankees in 2012

Brian Bogusevic, Steve Clevenger, Brett Jackson, Brent Lillibridge, Edwin Maysonet, Dave Sappelt, Jorge Soler and Logan Watkins are also expected to come off the bench today.

First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 CST, and the game will be available for free on MLB.TV. The Dodgers will be sending right-hander Chad Billingsley to the mound. Here is the batting order:

2B Luis Valbuena
DH Darwin Barney
RF Nate Schierholtz
CF Scott Hairston
1B Brad Nelson
LF Darnell McDonald
C Welington Castillo
3B Junior Lake
SS Alberto Gonzalez

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