Lopez to start Cactus League opener

MESA, Ariz. -- Rodrigo Lopez, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza will start the Chicago Cubs’ first three Cactus League games, in that order, manager Dale Sveum announced Monday.

The Cubs open their spring schedule Sunday against the Oakland A's. They play the A's again March 5 and then face the Colorado Rockies on March 6. All three games are home at HoHoKam Stadium.

That schedule lines up Dempster or Garza to be the Opening Day starter on April 5 against the Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field.

Garza would actually be lined up perfectly to start the opener if he pitched every fifth day. He would need to pitch in a B game on March 21 to stay on schedule since that is the Cubs' only day off from Cactus League play.

Dempster could also pitch on Opening Day, getting an extra day of rest between his final Cactus League start and the season opener.

Manager Dale Sveum was asked if the spring pitching schedule put Dempster ahead of Garza in the major-league rotation.

“No, we'll probably make that decision in the middle of [the Cactus League schedule]," Sveum said.