CHICAGO -- The conquering heroes are finally coming home.
The Chicago Cubs return to Wrigley Field on Monday for the first time since boarding buses for a downtown victory celebration on Nov. 4, 2016, following their seven-game World Series triumph over the Cleveland Indians.
A slightly altered ballpark greets the Cubs (4-2) for their official World Series banner-raising and home season opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers (4-3).
The three-game series is also a rematch of the 2016 National League Championship Series, which Chicago won four games to two.
The Cubs are excited to be returning after a successful road trip with two wins apiece in series in St. Louis and Milwaukee.
"I love banner-raising," manager Joe Maddon said Sunday after the Cubs' 7-4 road victory over the Brewers. "Rings are wonderful, but I love banner-raising. That's symbolically there all the time. Every time a kid shows up at the ballpark, he'll see that banner.
"Hopefully, we'll be able to hang more."
Cubs left-hander Jon Lester (0-0, 1,80 ERA) makes his second start of the season in the Monday opener, while the Dodgers counter with lefty Alex Wood (0-0, 0.00 ERA).
Lester started last week's Cubs season opener, allowing one run on seven hits in five innings in a no-decision outing against the Cardinals. He is 2-2 with a 3.06 ERA in five career regular-season starts against the Dodgers.
Preparing to fly tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/wkmpvFptfg— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 9, 2017
Wood's last start against the Cubs was on May 30, 2016, when he allowed two runs on seven hits in a 2-0 Dodgers loss. He worked two shutout innings of relief last Wednesday in San Diego.
After a Tuesday off day, the series resumes on Wednesday night and concludes with a Thursday day game.
The Dodgers avoided a three-game weekend sweep at Colorado by posting a 10-6 victory over the Rockies on Sunday. Second baseman Logan Forsythe went 3-for-5, including a double and two RBIs, and four other Los Angeles players had two hits apiece.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he is not necessarily looking forward to watching the Cubs raise their 2016 banner on Monday followed by a Wednesday World Series ring ceremony.
The Dodgers will visit Wrigley Field for a home opener for only the third time, something they last did in 1963.
Wrigley Field's massive, multiyear renovation project continued in the offseason, including moving bullpens from cramped spaces along the foul lines to underneath the bleachers.
Other work included a new western gateway and outdoor plaza, improved interior concourses plus work on a private club underneath the stands behind home plate that won't open until 2018.
Cubs staffers, meanwhile, are expected to move into an office building adjacent to the park later this month.
Big crowds and a heavy security blanket are expected in and around the ballpark all week and likely through the entire season.