Results tagged ‘ Carlos Villanueva ’

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

3/28 Villanueva named 5th starter

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

3/24 Cubs lineup

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:

Bonifacio 2B
Murphy SS
Rizzo 1B
Ruggiano LF
Schierholtz RF
Castillo C
Sweeney CF
Roberts 3B
Villanueva P

* 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.

3/22 Pitching notes

* 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

3/22 Cubs rotation

The Cubs have reconfigured the rotation. Jeff Samardzija will be the Opening Day starter and be followed by Edwin Jackson, Jason Hammel and Travis Wood. That means Wood would start the Cubs’ home opener at Wrigley Field on April 4. Who’s the fifth starter? That’s still to be determined, with Carlos Villanueva and Chris Rusin as options. Villanueva would have an edge in that if the fifth starter has to be skipped, he could go to the bullpen.

– Carrie Muskat

3/19 Cubs lineup

The Cubs travel to Scottsdale on Wednesday night to face the Rockies. Carlos Villanueva gets the start against lefty Franklin Morales, although the Cubs are looking at Villanueva as more of a swing man and would start only in emergency. The game will be broadcast on Cubs.com. Here’s the lineup:

Bonifacio SS
Barney 2B
Ruggiano LF
Rizzo 1B
Schierholtz RF
Sweeney CF
Valbuena 3B
Kottaras C
Villanueva P

11/22 RIP, Michael Weiner

Friday was a sad day for Major League players trying to cope with the passing of union executive director Michael Weiner. Cubs pitcher Carlos Villanueva, an active member of the MLB Players Association, called it a “difficult day.”

“It was a very difficult day, not only for me, but for all of us who had the pleasure of spending time with Michael,” Villanueva said Friday. “All I can say about Michael is what a wonderful leader he was to us, how he genuinely cared about us, and even when he was battling his illness, how he was there almost everyday at the office making sure that we were OK.”

Weiner lost his 15-month battle with brain cancer on Thursday. He was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in August 2012, and continued to serve the players and provide leadership and counsel to the MLBPA staff. Weiner was 51.

“He was not only our leader but he was family, because only someone who is family could dedicate their life to us the way he did,” Villanueva said.

The Cubs pitcher is the only non-American born player on the MLBPA board, and involved with the Latin players.

“From a Latin player point of view, he fought for us, he made sure that we got fair treatment above all, even when it seemed that we would get the short end of the stick,” Villanueva said from his home in the Dominican Republic. “Michael always had his calm demeanor, worked his magic, and made us feel that we mattered.

“He showed me personally, to not only care about the Latin players, but to care and love all of our members equally, that it is never about the individual, it’s about what we do now, and how that will affect in a positive way the well being of our future members,” Villanueva said. “He will stay with us forever, and we will never have anybody like him.”

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo also acknowledged Weiner’s passing on Twitter, saying: “It’s sad to see such a good man’s life be taken by cancer! Thank you for everything you have done! Rest in peace Michael Weiner!”

– Carrie Muskat

9/21 Cubs 3, Braves 1

The Cubs scored three runs in the eighth to post a 3-1 victory Saturday over the Braves, and force Atlanta to wait a little longer before clinching the NL East division. The Braves’ magic number is one. Anthony Rizzo hit a RBI double, Dioner Navarro smacked a RBI single and Nate Schierholtz hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth for the win. Pedro Strop pitched the ninth for his first save of the season. Carlos Villanueva got the win in relief of starter Travis Wood, who gave up one run over seven-plus innings. It was Wood’s 24th quality start. Wood is one inning shy of 200, and will get that in his next start Friday against the Cardinals.

Rizzo’s double was his 62nd extra base hit, the most by a left-handed Cubs batter since Corey Patterson’s 63 in 2004. Villanueva is now 5-0 with a 0.93 ERA in his last eight relief appearances.

The Braves may stay at Wrigley Saturday night to celebrate. They clinch the division if the Nationals lose to the Marlins

“One day, hopefully that will be us and we’ll move forward from there,” Wood said of the Braves.

– Carrie Muskat

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