Results tagged ‘ Carlos Villanueva ’
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:
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:
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
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:
* 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.
* 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
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
* 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
Carlos Villanueva was tabbed as the Cubs’ fifth starter, and Chris Rusin is headed to Iowa. Cubs manager Rick Renteria announced the final rotation spot Friday at Chase Field before the game against the Diamondbacks.
As for the rest of the bullpen, that’s still being decided. They had 16 pitchers on the spring camp roster, including the five starters and three who will open on the disabled list (Jake Arrieta, Kyuji Fujikawa and James McDonald). Jose Veras, James Russell, Pedro Strop, and Wesley Wright are set. It also appears that Hector Rondon and Justin Grimm are in, too. On the bubble: Alberto Cabrera, who has struggled recently.
One option the Cubs are considering is adding someone who was assigned to the Minor League camp earlier. The pitchers at Chase Field Friday night include Neil Ramirez, Brian Schlitter, Zac Rosscup, Armando Rivero and Jonathan Sanchez. One of them could be an option.
The Cubs currently have 38 players on the 40-man roster. They could put Fujikawa on the 60-day DL, which would open another spot on the 40-man. They need to find room on the 40-man roster for at least three players, Ryan Kalish, John Baker and Emilio Bonifacio.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs play their first night game at Cubs Park on Monday night against the Padres. First pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on WGN Radio. Carlos Villanueva, who could be used as the fifth starter in the first few weeks of the season, gets the start. Here’s the lineup:
* In Minor League action today, the Cubs’ Triple-A and Double-A teams will play the Indians at the team’s complex in Mesa, and the Class A kids will travel to Goodyear. Games start at 1 p.m. AZ time.
* Looking ahead, pitching-wise, Jeff Samardzija will make his final spring start on Wednesday against the jet-lagged Diamondbacks in Scottsdale. Arizona has already opened the season with a game in Australia.
* Travis Wood will start the Cubs’ home opener on April 4.
“It’ll be exciting for sure, even though Pittsburgh is a great place to pitch,” said Wood, who had been expected to follow Jeff Samardzija in the rotation.
Isn’t Wrigley Field a good place?
“Wrigley’s fine,” Wood said, laughing. “It’ll be cold either place, so it’s not like the weather will be different. The place will be packed, it’ll be jumping, it’ll be nice.”
Rick Renteria said they made the decision because of matchups. Wood has made three starts against the Phillies, and held them to five runs on 13 hits over 21 1/3 innings.
* The Cubs are still trying to fill the fifth spot in the rotation. The candidates include Carlos Villanueva, Chris Rusin and Tsuyoshi Wada. Villanueva, a valuable swingman, will start Monday against the Padres, while Wada will start Tuesday against the Angels. Rusin, who threw five shutout innings on Friday against the White Sox, is a possibility, but the Cubs may pick Villanueva because of his versatility and the fact they have four off days in the first three weeks of games. If the other four starters stay on a five-day rotation, Villanueva could slide into the bullpen until needed.
Renteria didn’t tip his hand on Saturday when asked about the fifth spot.
“They’re all still in the mix,” he said. “They’re all going out there and doing a nice job.”
* The Cubs had projected Jake Arrieta as the fifth starter but he’s been slowed this spring because of tightness in his right shoulder. On Sunday, Arrieta was scheduled to throw a bullpen.
“I’m hoping the next step is a game,” he said Saturday. “We’ll talk things over and see where we stand.”
* Cubs fans will get a chance to see two of the top pitching prospects on Tuesday when C.J. Edwards and Eric Jokisch pitch against the Padres. Edwards, 22, was a combined 8-2 with a 1.86 ERA in 24 games with Class A Hickory and Daytona last season. The Cubs acquired him in the Matt Garza deal. Jokisch, 24, was 11-13 with a 3.42 ERA at Double-A Tennessee in 2013.
– Carrie Muskat