Results tagged ‘ Carlos Villanueva ’

9/18 Extra bases

* Outfielder Arismendy Alcantara, who suffered a mild right wrist sprain on Monday, was able to hit off a batting tee and took batting practice Thursday, and could return to the Cubs lineup soon. Alcantara was injured when he ran into the brick outfield wall.

* Anthony Rizzo did not start Thursday, part of the Cubs plan to ease him back into game action after missing three weeks with a low back strain. The first baseman was expected in the lineup on Friday.

* Pitching coach Chris Bosio asked Cubs reliever Carlos Villanueva to sub for bullpen coach Lester Strode, who had to attend to a family matter. Villanueva made his debut Wednesday, and closer Hector Rondon complimented the veteran.

“I didn’t want to mess up,” Villanueva said. “My job depends on how those guys do. I’m glad to help. I feel good that they trust me. It was definitely a first.”

– Carrie Muskat

8/31 Cardinals 9, Cubs 6

Matt Holliday hit a solo homer, an RBI double and a two-run tie-breaking single in the eighth to lead the Cardinals to a 9-6 come from behind victory over the Cubs, who blew a five-run lead Sunday.

Luis Valbuena had three hits and was a triple shy of the cycle, and Arismendy Alcantara added a solo home run for the Cubs, who did finish August with a 16-14 record, their first .500 or better record this calendar month since going 16-13 in August 2011. The last time the Cubs won 17 games in August was 2008 (20-8). But that wasn’t enough to make the Cubs players feel any better.

“There’s nothing positive about losing,” Carlos Villanueva said. “I know what needs to be addressed has already been addressed. We take nothing from this — we take a loss. We’re not happy about it. That’s up to us to do something about it.

“Our goal down the stretch is to break as many hearts as possible,” Villanueva said. “We play a lot of teams that are in contention now, and that’s how we’ll learn to win those games. We have a month left and we’ll see how we do.”

What needed to be addressed were some costly defensive lapses. With one out in the St. Louis fifth inning, center fielder Arismendy Alcantara couldn’t get his glove on Matt Carpenter’s fly ball, which resulted in an RBI double. Carpenter then scored one batter later on Holliday’s RBI double to pull within, 5-4.

Second baseman Javier Baez wasn’t able to get a glove on Molina’s ball with two outs in the seventh, and another run scored to tie the game at 6. Both Alcantara and Baez are rookies, both are new at their positions. But no excuses.

“Those are all tremendously helpful, useful experiences that they’ll be able to use,” Rick Renteria said. “We did everything we could to contain everything. Hey, today, they won out.”

* Travis Wood made his team-leading 28th start. The lefty did not get a decision and gave up four runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings.

– Carrie Muskat

8/14 Cubs (heart) JRW

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7/5 Cubs lineup

Jeff Samardzija was scheduled to start Saturday for the Cubs but instead Carlos Villanueva will take the mound. Samardzija is on his way to Oakland to join the Athletics along with pitcher Jason Hammel. The two were traded late Friday.

Here is Saturday’s lineup:

Lake CF
Ruggiano RF
Rizzo 1B
Castro SS
Castillo C
Olt 3B
Coghlan LF
Barney 2B
Villanueva P

4/25 Cubs lineup

The Cubs open a three-game series in Milwaukee against the Brewers. Carlos Villanueva faces Matt Garza in the opener. Chicago was 3-7 at Miller Park last season, and 6-13 overall against the Milwaukee. Starlin Castro is batting fourth for the second time in his career. In the only other time, he was 3-for-5. He needs to pick it up on the road. Castro is 18-for-52 (.346) at Wrigley Field, and 5-for-32 (.156) on the road. Here’s the lineup:

Bonifacio 2B
Valbuena 3B
Rizzo 1B
Castro SS
Schierholtz RF
Lake LF
Sweeney CF
Castillo C
Villanueva P

4/22 Wrigley’s 100th anniversary

On Wednesday, Wrigley Field will celebrate it’s 100th anniversary, and Cubs catcher John Baker will think about all the other players who have stood on the field in the last century.

“This field is kind of like a soldier — it’s lasted for so long,” Baker said. “More than anything, I think about the privilege to step out on to it. Rarely in baseball do you get the chance to stand on the same spot where the all-time great players have stood on and played on the same field.

“One of the special things about golf is people can go to St. Andrews and Augusta and play,” he said. “In baseball, you think of the new stadium in Washington and the new stadium in Miami and Shea Stadium is gone, and that was new in the ’60s. This place and Fenway Park are one of the few places left where you can walk out and stand at home plate and be at the same place Babe Ruth stood and Ted Williams stood. I think that’s the most special aspect of this entire ballpark.”

The Cubs and Diamondbacks will wear throwback uniforms to reflect the 100-year anniversary, although neither will be wearing jerseys from their respective club. The Cubs will wear the Chi-Feds jerseys to represent the first team that played at Wrigley, which was then Weegham Park. The Diamondbacks will wear versions of the Kansas City Packers’ uniforms. The Chi-Feds played the Packers on April 23, 1914.

Fans will be asked to sing “Happy Birthday” in the fifth inning, and several Cubs alums, including Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Billy Williams, will return for pre-game festivities.

“There’s a little kid in every one of us that comes out when we see former players who have been here,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “Their experiences are unique.”

However, no team has celebrated a championship at Wrigley Field. Is there anything about the ballpark that makes Renteria think that can’t happen?

“No,” Renteria said. “The game is defined and starts and ends with the players. Hopefully, when we’re coaching and managing, we’re able to help direct and stay out of the way when we have to.”

Theo Epstein knows about historical ballparks, having spent so much time with the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

“When it comes to the 100th anniversary, for me, I think of how Wrigley is the epicenter of fans’ connection to the Cubs and it represents something so important to this franchise and the fans,” Epstein said. “It not only connects Wrigley to the fans of the team, but also generations of fans to one another. … It’s the epicenter of the fan’s connection to the team and for a lot of families, it’s an important familial place because of so much bonding and so many good times have gone on here despite the losing.

“We all look forward to the day when the crowd and the energy in the ballpark is focused on the ninth inning comeback the Cubs are going to have instead of the seventh inning stretch,” he said.

For Chicago’s Carlos Villanueva, pitching at Wrigley Field is a little surreal.

“This park, it’s a different aura,” Villanueva said. “I was fortunate in my first year to start a game here in September. You grow up in the Dominican and you get WGN-TV back home, and we watched the Cubs games, and it looked so much different on TV. You see the ivy and the wind and the people.

“The fact that I was here, it’s almost like I didn’t want to pitch, I just wanted to sit and watch a game as a fan,” he said. “I couldn’t believe I was actually in this park. You start thinking about all the people and everyone has seen the videos of years ago and the people who were playing here. It’s crazy.”

It’s been 100 years of baseball at Clark and Addison streets.

“Obviously, the dimensions, the ivy, the basket, how more people come for day games than night games, the rooftops — it’s definitely special and it’s something you can’t replicate,” Villanueva said of Wrigley Field. “I always joke around and tell people nobody can understand what it feels like to be a Cubbie unless you’ve been one. Wrigley is all part of it. We get a little renovations done and it’ll be around for 100 more years. In this next century, let’s have at least 25 championships.”

– Carrie Muskat

4/20 Cubs lineup

Happy Easter Sunday. Carlos Villanueva gets the start in the Cubs’ series finale against the Reds. Here’s the lineup — and keep in mind that left-handed batters are hitting .538 off Homer Bailey:

Bonifacio CF
Sweeney LF
Rizzo 1B
Schierholtz RF
Castro SS
Olt 3B
Castillo C
Barney 2B
Villanueva P

* Anthony Rizzo says he’s fine after coming out of Saturday’s game with back spasms. However, Mike Olt did take grounders at first base on Sunday, just in case.

4/13 Extra bases

* The addition of Blake Parker gives the Cubs another option for save situations, joining Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Justin Grimm. The Cubs are trying to fill in for Jose Veras, who will be used in a different role after his struggles in his first four games. Parker is the career saves leader at Iowa, and knows how hard it is to get the last three outs.

“It’s an unbelievably hard role, especially in the big leagues with the crowd involved and the umpires are a little bit tighter and the quality of the hitters is way better,” Parker said. “It’s the hardest job for a pitcher to get those last three outs. To just be able to come in and get outs is my thing, whether it’s the ninth or the sixth.”

The Cubs have seen two pitchers – Strop and Rondon – each record a save within the first 11 games of the season. Last April, the Cubs had three different pitchers record a save within the month of April for the first time since the save became an official MLB statistic in 1969.

“They give me various options,” Renteria said of Strop, Parker, Rondon and Grimm. “You still have to put them in situations where they feel comfortable.”

* The Cubs have two off days this week but will not tweak their rotation, which means Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Villanueva and Edwin Jackson will start next weekend against the Reds at Wrigley Field. Villanueva will stay in the rotation despite lasting three innings Saturday against the Cardinals.

* After an off day Monday, the Cubs play the Yankees in the first of eight Interleague series this season at Yankee Stadium. This will be the Cubs’ first-ever regular season games at the new Yankee Stadium, which will be the 122nd different ballpark in which the team will have played. After Tuesday, the Cubs will have played a regular-season game in every current Major League city and a game in every active ballpark.

“It was a little more traditional, and it was more of a pitcher’s ballpark,” Jose Veras said of the old Yankee Stadium. “The [new one] is a hitters ballpark now. It’s way different now.”

The Cubs did play the first two games in the history of new Yankee Stadium, however, when the teams met in exhibition action prior to 2009. The Yankees won both games.

* Top prospect Javier Baez was placed on the seven-day disabled list with Triple-A Iowa because of a sprained left ankle, injured while taking ground balls on Friday. Baez was 4-for-26 (.154) with two home runs in eight games this season.

* This weekend was manager Rick Renteria’s first exposure to the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.

“I noticed, looking outside my hotel room, that there were a lot of people waiting to get into [Busch] stadium and that was early in the morning,” Renteria said. “It’s neat. I think the fan base here and in Chicago are unique. I like my fan base.”

– Carrie Muskat

4/5 Villanueva to start Sunday

Rick Renteria confirmed Saturday that Carlos Villanueva will start on Sunday in the series finale against the Phillies. Villanueva, named the fifth starter in Spring Training, was needed to pitch in relief Monday and Wednesday in extra inning games against the Pirates, and took the loss in both.

The right-hander can only hope he continues the strong outings so far by Chicago starters. In the first four games, the Cubs starters have combined for a 1.78 ERA, giving up five earned runs over 25 1/3 innings. They haven’t gotten much offensive support, though.

“It’s early,” said Travis Wood, who posted a quality start but took the loss on Friday. “We have a good group of guys here who are gamers and they’re going to find their stroke and put some runs up on the board.”

Renteria said the players’ approach at the plate is fine, and noted that the Cubs did out-hit the Pirates in the opening series.

“It’s not so much offensive struggles — it might be situational struggles at times,” Renteria said. “As long as our pitching keeps us in the game and we catch the ball, we have a good chance every single day to win a ballgame.”

The Cubs rank 14th in the National League with runners in scoring position, batting .121 (4-for-33) in the first four games.

– Carrie Muskat

4/4 Extra bases

* Cubs top prospect Jorge Soler had to leave his Minor League season opener Thursday after he hit a double because of a sore left hamstring. Soler doubled in the first inning for Double-A Tennessee off Mat Latos, who was making a rehab start for Pensacola. Soler was limited to 55 games at Class A Daytona last season because of a strained left calf.

“It sounds like the exact same injury,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said Friday. “He maybe rushed back too early to get ready for Opening Day or maybe it’s a coincidence. He hits a double in the gap against Latos and it’s a shame that’s the way his season started out. Hopefully, we’ll get good news and he’ll be back on the field soon.”

Soler was to have an MRI on his leg either Friday or Saturday, Hoyer said.

* Hoyer would not say whether the Cubs are still talking to Jeff Samardzija about a contract extension, or if the team would discuss anything this season.

“We’ll keep that in house,” Hoyer said. “In general, it’s up to the player [whether to talk in-season]. We don’t have any problem negotiating in season. I don’t have to hit a fastball or throw a strike. It doesn’t bother me or [president of baseball operations Theo Epstein], but if he or his agent thinks it’ll influence a performance at all, then we don’t do it. We take it on a case by case basis.”

* Cubs pitcher Carlos Villanueva threw a bullpen on Friday in preparation for what he feels will be his first start on Sunday. The right-hander was eager to get back on the mound.

“I threw a bullpen and I told [pitching coach Chris] Bosio, ‘I wish I could pitch today,'” Villanueva said. “I feel really good today.”

Villanueva took the loss in the Cubs’ first two games Monday and Wednesday, pitching in relief. His start on Sunday was in question because of the workload and manager Rick Renteria said he would talk with Bosio to go over their options. As far as Villanueva is concerned, he’s starting in the series finale against the Phillies.

“I’m in on Sunday,” Villanueva said. “Unless, they tell me otherwise, I’m in.”

– Carrie Muskat

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