5/5 Extra bases
* Cubs reliever Hector Rondon was not available on Monday after pitching in four straight games over five days. Rondon was a perfect 3-for-3 in save situations, picking up saves on Friday and Saturday, but served up a tie-breaking two-run single to Yadier Molina in the ninth inning on Sunday. The Cardinals held on for a 5-4 win. Catcher Welington Castillo gave Rondon a pep talk.
“I told him, ‘Don’t worry about anything. You threw the ball really good,’” Castillo said Monday. “‘You faced a good hitter. You tried to make a pitch and it didn’t happen. Sometimes you make a bad pitch and you get out of it, sometimes you make a good pitch and they hit it.’ Baseball is hard. I tried to tell him, ‘Come [today] with your mind fresh and ready to go.’”
* James Russell appeared in 14 games in April 2013, but so far has seen limited action with the Cubs this season, pitching in 11 games. The lefty totaled 70-plus appearances the last two seasons. What’s going on?
“It’s a little different,” Russell said Monday. “We haven’t really been playing many teams that have a lot of lineups set up to where I can get extended work. It’s just one of those things. It happens. I haven’t really talked to them about it. I figure if there’s a problem, they’d come to me and tell me.”
The Cubs added lefty Wesley Wright in the offseason, and he’s been getting more action recently. Wright has a 1.86 ERA in 10 games; Russell has a 4.50 ERA in his 11 games. Maybe manager Rick Renteria is riding the hot hand?
“[Wright] has been doing a little better job than me,” Russell said. “I didn’t start as well as I have the last two years. You can’t expect to go out there and start off with a zero all the time. It’s always nice but it doesn’t always happen. I’m not worried about it. As long as we keep winning, then so be it.”
* Cubs players get a text message each night telling them if they’re going to be in the lineup the next day. Manager Rick Renteria also makes sure he gives players a heads up.
“We make sure they understand why we’re doing what we’re doing,” Renteria said Monday. “I’ve got no complaints about any players I have in terms of understanding what we’re trying to do. I think its best we communicate and make sure they understand.”
He has encouraged players to talk to him, saying his office door is always open.
“If there’s somthing you need to get off your chest, bring it,” he said.
Has that happened?
“Not yet,” Renteria said. “I don’t know if it’s because we talk. Even during [batting practice], you might call somebody to have a conversation. I haven’t had an issue.”
* Tickets are on sale for Anthony Rizzo’s second “Cook-Off for Cancer” fundraiser to be held May 16, 6-10 p.m. CT, at Revel Downtown, 440 W. Randolph, in Chicago. Last year’s event raised more than $150,000 to help and support families with children fighting cancer. Rizzo and the Cubs players and coaching staff will be serving food and competing for tips, with proceeds going to benefit pediatric cancer research, care and support. Tickets for the event are $200 per person with limited number of tables available for $1,200. For tickets and information, visit http://www.cubs.com/cook.
* Jose Veras, on the disabled list with a strained left oblique since April 24, was to begin a rehab assignment soon with Double-A Tennessee. Veras has been throwing bullpen sessions with the Minor League team.
* Top prospect Jorge Soler, who strained his right hamstring in his first game with Double-A Tennessee, was playing in games at extended Spring Training in Mesa, Ariz., and close to returning to the Minor League team.
– Carrie Muskat