2012 Big League Weekend: Rangers vs. Cubs on March 17-18!

By Jim Gemma / Las Vegas 51s | November 29, 2011 10:42 AM

LAS VEGAS: The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) and the Las Vegas 51s professional baseball team of the Pacific Coast League (PCL), Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, announced today the schedule for the 2012 Big League Weekend at Cashman Field.

The Chicago Cubs will make their eighth straight appearance to Las Vegas for two games against the two-time American League Champions Texas Rangers on Saturday and Sunday, March 17 and 18 at 1:05 p.m. at Cashman Field. The two games will feature split-squads. Big League Weekend ticket packages are available NOW by calling the 51s office at (702) 798-7825.

The Cubs have recorded 13 sellouts over the past seven seasons (2005-11) for their annual Big League Weekend visits to Cashman Field.

"Las Vegas is proud to continue its partnership with Major League Baseball when Big League Weekend returns in March," Rossi Ralenkotter, President/CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said. "We are excited to welcome back the Chicago Cubs and their outstanding fans, and we look forward to seeing their matchup with the two-time defending American League Champion Texas Rangers. It's going to be a great baseball weekend."

The Cubs, under manager Mike Quade, compiled a 71-91 record (.438) in 2011 and finished in fifth place in the National League Central Division, 25 games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. Dale Sveum was named the Cubs' skipper for the 2012 season on Nov. 18, 2011.

Starlin Castro is one of the most talented shortstops in the National League and will return for his third season. In 2011, he appeared in a team-high 158 games and ranked sixth in the N.L. with a .307 average and also led the N.L. in hits (207) and at-bats (674). Castro compiled 55 extra-base hits with 36 doubles, 9 triples and 10 home runs (66 RBI) with 22 stolen bases in 31 attempts. Outfielder Alfonso Soriano appeared in 137 games and batted .244 (116-for-475) with 27 doubles, 26 home runs and 88 RBI.

Right-hander Ryan Dempster was tied for the team lead with 10 victories (10-14, 4.80 ERA). He led the staff in starts (34) and innings pitched (202.1) and ranked second in strikeouts (191). Right-hander Matt Garza appeared in 31 games and compiled a 10-10 record with a 3.32 ERA. He pitched 198.0 innings, allowed 186 hits and struck out a team-high 197 batters. Right-hander Carlos Marmol appeared in 75 games and led the team with 34 saves and struck out 99 batters, allowed 54 hits in 74.0 innings pitched.

"The 51s are fortunate to be able to welcome the Chicago Cubs back to Cashman Field for the eighth consecutive season," 51s General Manager/V.P. Marketing Chuck Johnson said. "It's also very exciting to have the two-time A.L. Champion Texas Rangers in Las Vegas as well. Dallas and Chicago are such great tourist markets for Las Vegas and we anticipate their fans traveling in for the event and joining with the local baseball fans to create an incredible baseball atmosphere.

"If having the Cubs and Rangers for Big League Weekend isn't enough, the first game also falls on St. Patrick's Day providing another reason for tourist and locals alike to celebrate at the ballpark."

The Texas Rangers, under manager Ron Washington, compiled a 96-66 record (.593) in 2011 and captured the American League Western Division. The Rangers also had the second-best record in the A.L. behind the New York Yankees (97-65, .599). The A.L. champions returned to the World Series for the second straight season. The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Rangers in game seven to capture the World Series. The Rangers lost to the San Francisco Giants in five games in the 2010 World Series.

The Rangers potent offense led the American League with a .283 team batting average. Outfielder Josh Hamilton, the 2010 American League Most Valuable Player, appeared in 121 games and batted .298 (145-for-487) with 31 doubles, 25 home runs and 94 RBI. Shortstop Elvis Andrus appeared in 150 games and batted .279 (164-for-587) with 27 doubles, 60 RBI and a team-leading 37 stolen bases (fifth in American League) in 49 attempts.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre appeared in 124 games and batted .296 (144-for-487) with 33 doubles, 32 home runs (tied for team lead) and 105 RBI (second on team). Outfielder Nelson Cruz, the 2008 PCL MVP, appeared in 124 games and batted .263 (125-for-475) with 28 doubles, 29 home runs and 87 RBI. In six ALCS games, he batted .364 (8-for-22) with 6 HR and 13 RBI.

Second baseman Ian Kinsler appeared in 155 games and batted .255 (158-for-620) with 34 doubles, 32 home runs (tied for team lead) and 77 RBI. He batted .360 (9-for-25) in seven World Series games. Catcher Mike Napoli, in his first season with Texas, appeared in 113 games and batted .320 (118-for-369) with 25 doubles, 30 home runs and 75 RBI. He batted .350 (7-for-20) with 2 HR, 10 RBI in seven World Series games. Infielder Michael Young appeared in a team-high 159 games and ranked tied for second in the American League with a .338 average (1st, .344, Miguel Cabrera, Detroit) and tied for first in hits (213-for-631) with Boston's Adrian Gonzalez (.338, 213-for-630). Young also compiled 58 extra-base hits with 41 doubles, 6 triples, 11 home runs and a team-leading 106 RBI (fifth in A.L.).

Left-hander C.J. Wilson led the staff in starts (34, tied for 1st in A.L.), ERA for starters (2.94, ranked seventh in A.L.), innings pitched (223.1) and strikeouts (206). He compiled a 16-7 record and was tied on the staff for most victories.

Left-hander Derek Holland compiled a 16-5 record (3.95 ERA) and ranked tied for second on the staff with 32 starts and led with four complete games and tied for first in the A.L. with four shutouts. He ranked third on the staff with 198.0 innings pitched and 162 strikeouts. Right-hander Neftali Feliz appeared in 64 games and led the staff with 32 saves. He struck out 54 batters and allowed 42 hits in 62.1 innings pitched.

The Cubs will be returning to Cashman Field for the eighth straight season and 11th all-time appearance in Las Vegas for Big League Weekend (1993, 1994, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011).

In 2011, the Cubs total attendance for the two-day event was 20,098. The Cubs defeated Cincinnati, 9-8, on March 12 before a crowd of 9,047. The Cubs then defeated Los Angeles, 4-3 in 10 innings, on March 13 before a sellout crowd of 11,051.

Texas will be making its first appearance to Cashman Field for Big League Weekend. The Rangers were scheduled for a two-game series against Colorado on April 2-3, 2004. Inclement weather then forced both games to be rained out.

The 51s open their 30th season in the Silver State on Thursday, April 5 against division-rival, the Sacramento River Cats, Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A's, at 7:05 p.m. at Cashman Field.

Season tickets and mini-plan packages (10 & 10-Game You Pick'em, 20, 33-game plans) are available by calling the 51s office at (702) 798-7825.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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