DES MOINES, Iowa — Baseball is back Friday. The Iowa Cubs take on the Columbus Clippers at 7:08 p.m. at Principal Park to open the 2023 season.

“It’s special,” Iowa Cubs Assistant General Manager Randy Wehofer said.

He said he still gets butterflies after 25 years each Opening Day.

As with every Opening Day, fans will see some changes from the previous season.

This year, the team has instituted a clear bag policy. If they don’t already have a clear bag, they purchase them at the stadium’s pro shop.

Principal Park also has a new batter’s eye in center field. It will be taller to meet Major League Baseball standards but fans still should be able to see the top of the Iowa State Capitol’s dome.

As always, however, the biggest change from year to year in Minor League Baseball is the roster. Some guys are making their Triple A debut Friday. Others are back after spending a bulk of last season with the big club in Chicago.

“Outfielders Christopher Morel and Nelson Velazquez spent quite a bit of time up with Chicago last year. We’ll have top prospects Brennen Davis and Matt Mervis back again this year. Caleb Killian will kind of solidify that pitching rotation, he’s a top prospect. And then four-year veteran Cub David Bote is also slated to start the year in Iowa. So there’s a lot of veteran experience but also a lot of top young prospects within that Cubs system that are supposed to be here so we’re really looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a great group,” said Iowa Cubs Media Relations Director Colin Connolly.

“We have a pretty good Triple A lineup to begin the year and it should be a lot of fun to watch,” Wehofer said.

Another major topic of conversation around baseball is the new pitch clock in the MLB. It’s new in the Minors. Triple A has used a pitch clock for several years.

What will be new, however, in Triple A is an automated strike zone being tested this season. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays home plate umpires will use the automated system to call balls and strikes. During other games, umpires will manually call the strike zone but teams can challenge a call using the automated technology.