Results tagged ‘ Jose Veras ’

4/24 Who’s closing? It’s organic

After Jose Veras blew a save situation on April 11, he was removed as the Cubs closer. The Cubs had their first save opportunity since then on Wednesday, and blew it. So, who does manager Rick Renteria turn to now?

“It depends on who’s available today,” Renteria said, adding he wanted to talk to pitching coach Chris Bosio first.

Pedro Strop appeared to be in line for the job, and he entered the game on Wednesday with a 5-2 lead in the ninth. But the inning unraveled quickly as Strop walked leadoff batter, Chris Owings, and Tony Campana reached on an error by shortstop Starlin Castro.

Strop faced four more batters, and ended up with the loss as Arizona rallied for a 7-5 win. The right-hander was pulled so lefty James Russell could face Miguel Montero, who delivered a RBI single.

“Once he got to 31 pitches, that’s a lot of pitches, so you have to be mindful of that situation,” Renteria said. “We had Russell available for Montero. You can never assume in that role. You’re still very mindful of protecting them as much as you can and not letting them get too extended in their pitch count.

“In that situation, if [Strop] has 25 pitches under his belt, he’ll face Montero,” Renteria said. “But he had 31. I can’t assume a two or three pitch at-bat. I’ve got to prepare for the worst, and I don’t wnat to put him in that situation.”

So, who’s the Cubs closer?

“Right now, it’s organic,” Renteria said.

The Cubs added two relievers on Thursday, recalling Neil Ramirez and Zac Rosscup from Triple-A Iowa. Neither was used in save situations on a regular basis at Iowa.

“I’m ready for anything,” Ramirez said. “Whatever they want me to do I’ll be ready to go.”

The Cubs began this season feeling their bullpen was one of their strengths. But with Veras not being used as the closer, the situation is evolving.

“I still feel very confident in the arms we have,” Renteria said. “I guess it’s finding that nice sync that gets us through the latter part of the ballgame — closing out a ballgame, the reality is you win and lose ballgames in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.”

– Carrie Muskat

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

4/12 Veras out as closer for now

Manager Rick Renteria had a long talk Saturday morning with Jose Veras, and told him that as of now, the right-hander is no longer the Cubs closer and will be used in other situations to try to get back on track. Veras blew a two-run lead on Friday against the Cardinals and is 0-2 in save situations so far.

“I was just telling him we believe in him and we’ll try to find spots where he can continue to work through things he needs to work to get better,” Renteria said.

Veras knows there’s a problem.

“I don’t have an answer,” Veras said. “I can’t find myself. It’s kind of tough. I feel I’m good, my body feels good. I’m not hurt, I’m 100 percent healthy, thank God. For some reason, I can’t get three down. I’ve got to get going. Today is a new day and find a way to get out of there.

“Everybody has been in that position. … I know how to handle it, I’m not going to put my head down,” he said. “A couple bad outings, hopefully it’s going to stop. If it doesn’t, I’m going to keep fighting, keep working. I’ll never give up, brother. My stuff is there. For some reason, I can’t get it done. I try to pitch inside, hit a guy, try to throw front door breaking ball, hit a guy. Make good pitches, and they don’t swing at them. Make good pitches, and I don’t receive a call by the guy behind home plate. There’s too much stuff at the same time. It’s no excuse. I’ve got to get the job done.”

Who will be the Cubs closer? That’s to be determined on a game by game situation. Among the Cubs options are Hector Rondon and Justin Grimm.

“Right now what we’re going to do is see who emerges,” Renteria said. “We’ll use some of our other guys. We need to help [Veras] work through some things right now. I told him I have all the confidence in the world in him and I think he’ll be back.”

Renteria made the decision after talking with Veras.

“You have to be able to talk to your players and kind of get a feel where they’re at before you make decisions,” Renteria said.

– Carrie Muskat

4/9 Balls and strikes

Cubs closer Jose Veras appreciated manager Rick Renteria sticking up for him on Tuesday night. The rookie manager was ejected in the ninth inning for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Jeff Nelson.

“You don’t want him to get thrown out, but he argued because they called bad pitches to [Welington] Castillo, too,” said Veras, who was on the mound in the ninth.

Castillo was called out on a questionable strike three to end the Chicago eighth.

“Every manager does what he feels he needs to do at a particular time,” Renteria said Wednesday. “It’s a feel thing. You don’t want to go out there and try to embarrass an umpire. They have a tough job. Sometimes when you’re watching a ballgame, you let loose, too, and you get ejected.”

Renteria was the first Major League manager to get ejected this season, which is not exactly something the rookie skipper wanted on his resume. He’s managed in the Minor Leagues. Was he ever tossed then?

“Oh, yeah,” Renteria said.

What sets him off?

“Any number of things,” Renteria said. “You have a lot of guys working extremely hard to do their job and you have a lot vested in the outcome and the umpires have a lot vested in what they do on a daily basis. We get emotional. We’re looking at the wins and losses. If I think things are kind of going awry, you try to address them, and last night, it just happened.”

Renteria argued a ball called on a 1-2 pitch to Jordy Mercer in the Pirates’ ninth.

“You just want to win the ballgame — I don’t want him to get thrown out,” Veras said. “I just want to finish my outing, have a good outing.”

Veras did just that, striking out one in one inning. He did not give up a hit or walk a batter.

“It’s going to be better,” Veras said. “That’s why we’re working. I’m not going to be perfect for a six-month season. It’s better to be struggling early than late. I’m going to be OK. I’m fine.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/28 Bullpen decisions

The Cubs’ rotation is set. The bullpen is still being evaluated. The Cubs headed into the final two exhibition games with some decisions to be made. Jose Veras, James Russell, Pedro Stop and Wesley Wright are set. There is still some debate about Alberto Cabrera, Justin Grimm and Hector Rondon, and the Cubs also are looking at some of the relievers who were assigned to the Minor Leagues earlier this spring.

Cabrera had looked sharp early but in his last two outings, he’s struggled, including a game against the Angels March 25 when the right-hander gave up five runs on four hits over one-third of an inning. Cabrera is out of options.

Among the pitchers at Chase Field on Friday for the final two games against the Diamondbacks were Brian Schlitter, Zac Rosscup, Neil Ramirez, Blake Parker, Armando Rivero and Jonathan Sanchez. All had been in big league camp at the start of Spring Training.

“We’re still winding it down,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “We haven’t finished our decisions and we’ll work through it in the next 24, 48 hours.”

The Cubs don’t need to set their 25-man Opening Day roster until Sunday in advance of Monday’s opener against the Pirates at PNC Park.

On Friday, Carlos Villanueva, who had been an option for the bullpen, was named the fifth starter.

“I think we have a way better team than we did [last year],” Villanueva said. “The fact that a lot of tough decisions came down to the wire let’s people know that we’re not all thinking about the future right now, we’re thinking about the present, and guys are thinking about now. We want to win now.”

– Carrie Muskat

2/14 Veras happy to be with Cubs

When Jose Veras was looking for a team to sign with, the right-hander says he wasn’t that concerned about being the closer.

“I’m the kind of guy who was just looking to find a job and be somewhere and do my best,” said Veras, who signed a free agent deal with the Cubs on Dec. 27 and will be their closer this season.

“I don’t think in my mind that I’ve got a spot or got a place [on the team],” he said. “I think I’m here and any position, any moment that they need me, give my best, make the team win ballgames and that’s my goal. That’s what I worry about. I don’t worry about being setup, closer, long reliever, whatever they need from me, I’ll be there.”

The right-hander was the Astros closer at the start of last season, then traded to the Tigers where he was used as a set-up pitcher. In 25 games with Detroit, he posted a 3.20 ERA.

Veras did like the idea of joining the Cubs. To him, the team has some special history.

“Being with the Cubs is something you can’t explain,” Veras said. “A lot of good players passed through here — Greg Maddux, [Ryne] Sandberg, the second baseman, Sammy Sosa, [Alfonso] Soriano, Aramis Ramirez. It’s unbelievable to wear this uniform. For me, it’s one of my best steps in baseball, to be with a glory team like this.”

Keep in mind, Veras has pitched for the Yankees, Indians, Marlins, Pirates, and Brewers as well as the Astros and Tigers.

“I see the history, I know how they are,” he said of the Cubs. “So far, it’s a team that gives a lot of opportunity to people who they trust can do something. That’s the best part of baseball, when you find people who trust you can do something.”

– Carrie Muskat

12/27 Cubs sign Jose Veras

The Cubs now have a bonafide closer. On Friday, the Cubs announced they have signed right-hander Jose Veras to a one-year, $3.85 million contract with a club option for 2015. There is a $150,000 buyout for 2015.

The Cubs did not chose to keep free agent Kevin Gregg after he saved 33 games last season, taking over for Carlos Marmol, who was traded to the Dodgers, and Kyuji Fujikawa, who needed Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Veras, 33, combined to go 0-5 with 21 saves and a 3.02 ERA in 67 relief appearances between the Astros and Tigers last season. He struck out 60 and walked 22 over 62 2/3 innings, and compiled a .199 opponents batting average against. The right-hander began the season with Houston and posted a 2.93 ERA and 19 saves in 42 outings before he was traded to Detroit, where he made nine appearances and helped the Tigers reach the postseason.

In 2011, Veras ranked fifth in the National League with 27 holds in a career-high 79 appearances. He also was a member of the 2013 World Baseball Classic Dominican Republic club. Since the start of the 2011 season, he is tied for fifth in the Major Leagues with 218 appearances.

His contract with the Cubs includes incentives for an additional $750,000 based on games finished.

The Cubs’ bullpen is definitely stronger with Veras at the end. He joins lefty relievers James Russell, Wesley Wright and Zac Rosscup and right-handers Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, Blake Parker, and Arodys Vizcaino.

– Carrie Muskat

12/17 Report: Veras to Cubs

The Cubs have reportedly signed veteran right-handed reliever Jose Veras to a one-year, $4 million contract with a $5.5 million option for 2015. ESPN Deportes’ Enrique Rojas first reported the deal Tuesday, saying it included several incentives. The Cubs would not confirm the deal.

Veras, 33, has pitched for the Yankees, Indians, Marlins, Pirates, Brewers, Astros and Tigers, and compiled a 3.84 ERA with 26 saves in 42 opportunities. Last season, the right-hander totaled a career-high 21 saves in 25 opportunities with the Astros and Tigers combined. He was Houston’s closer before being dealt to Detroit in July for two players. Veras was used more in a set-up role with the Tigers.

The Cubs are in the market for a closer and Veras could compete for that job or provide more experience in the bullpen. Detroit turned down a $4 million option on the right-hander.

– Carrie Muskat

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