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Cubs' new faces soaking in opener

Cubs' new faces soaking in opener

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CHICAGO -- Carmen Pignatiello had a ton of phone messages to answer when he got home Sunday night. Apparently, word had gotten out that he had made the Cubs' Opening Day roster.

If he didn't call everyone back, please forgive him. It's been a hectic few days for the left-handed reliever.

"I just went home and went to bed," Pignatiello said.

Pignatiello, who found out officially on Sunday, is one of the new faces on the Cubs' 25-man roster for Monday's season opener.

Catcher Geovany Soto, center fielder Felix Pie and right fielder Kosuke Fukudome all made the Cubs' Opening Day lineup for the first time. Soto and Fukudome are both rookies, and this is the first time the Cubs have had two in the Opening Day lineup since 1997, when Brant Brown and Kevin Orie both started against Florida.

Pignatiello, Kevin Hart, Carlos Marmol and Mike Fontenot are rookies in terms of season openers. Hart didn't find out officially that he made the roster until pitching coach Larry Rothschild said something to the right-hander when he was throwing in the bullpen on Saturday.

"[Rothschild] said, 'I think you made the team,'" Hart said.

Hart's attitude was to not ask and just stay with the team until someone told him otherwise. It worked, as did his performance this spring, when he held opponents scoreless in eight of his 12 outings. He finally called his father this weekend to give him the news.

"He was the one who coached me my whole life," Hart said. "For him, it was just as cool as it was for me."

Hart contributed in the Cubs' September run for the playoffs, and pitched in the National League Division Series. He's familiar with the clubhouse, the players.

"It doesn't feel new," he said about being on the roster now, "but it's still Opening Day."

It's a magical time.

"Once the game starts, everybody's on the line being introduced, that's when the adrenaline starts rushing and you get butterflies," Chicago's Daryle Ward said. "Then the crowd cheers the first pitch -- that's when you know."

Ward missed the last two exhibition games in Las Vegas to get treatment for a sore right ankle. He's OK to run, but said it hurts a little when he hits as he turns on his swing. X-rays taken last Thursday in Arizona were negative. It didn't matter -- the bunting was up at Wrigley Field.

"It's time to get going," Ward said.

Left fielder Alfonso Soriano was eager to get the season started -- sort of.

"It's not exciting right now, not with this weather," Soriano said.

Rain limited the Cubs and Brewers to pregame batting practice in the cages under the right-field bleachers.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"content":["opening_day" ] }
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