Results tagged ‘ Rick Renteria ’

7/16 The second half

The Cubs open the second half of the season on Friday against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix. Here are some comments from manager Rick Renteria about the first half, which he made Sunday in Chicago to reporters:

Q: What did the team accomplish in the first half?

Renteria: “I would just say more than anything they’re building their confidence. They’re playing as a team – not giving up, continuing to chip away, maintaining an attitude that grinds and doesn’t take any deficit or any part of the game [and] allow it to affect them to an extent where you see them start to fall into a low. I think they’ve been playing hard all season. That’s one of the things we were hoping to get done and I think they’re doing that.”

Q: Could you sum up the first half?

Renteria: “We’ve done well as a club. They’ve chipped away. Obviously, early, we had certain things, little things, in the game that we probably weren’t doing as well as we would like. The ‘pen was a little erratic at times. Our starting pitching was good the whole season. We’ve continued to adjust to play the game, so to speak. There have been times where we’ve had some hiccups. But all in all, I think there have been very few games where you look at our club and think ‘God, this is terrible.’ They’ve plugged away, they’ve played. We’ve been in almost every game this season.”

Q: It’s been six months since you took over as manager. How do you feel about yourself and the team?

Renteria: “I feel good about where I’m at just simply because you get to know your personnel. Coming in, you have an understanding based on reports and information you’ve had and some of the contact you’ve had with some of the players. But there’s nothing like being with them on a daily basis to get a really good feel about who they are, what they’re about. Hopefully they’re taking on some of the personality of the coaches and myself as a manager. But, all in all, you have to continue to give players credit for what they do because they’re the ones out there between the lines and playing the game.”

Q: What can Cubs fans look forward to in the second half?

Renteria: “There are more opportunities before us. We have a chance to continue to grind, play the game. We need to understand that we’re not playing for August or September. The mentality is to keep playing so you feel you want to keep playing beyond August and September. As long as they continue to play the game and give themselves a chance to win every ballgame and play collectively as they should, we’ll hopefully be competitive and come out with some victories.”

Q: After the Cubs traded Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, Theo Epstein said he saw a light at the end of the tunnel for the organization. Do you see that?

Renteria: “Honestly, I thought I could see it prior to even being hired after studying all the players that were in the system and the guys that were here. I’ve always believed, even for the last four or five months, that, based on everything we’ve seen and how these guys have been playing, quite frankly, yeah, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. There’s a lot of talent in the system and I think there’s some talent on the big league field. With attitude and work, we can continue to move forward.”

6/3 One-third mark

It’s the one-third mark in the season, and manager Rick Renteria was asked if he’s learned something about the Cubs that he didn’t know:

“A lot of things have been confirmed, more than things I didn’t know,” Renteria said. “I know the city wants a winner. I know the community would like to have their club have more success than they have. I’m trying to stay focused on things we are improving on. I think our shortstop [Castro] has done better, I think our first baseman [Rizzo] has come along. I think our pitching has done a nice job. I think some of the younger guys have shown the things they have — Olt has shown he has some pop. Junior is now playing a lot of left field, and I think he’s showing better at-bats.

“it’s just a short snippet of a season. Do I expect or hope we continue to improve and get better? Absolutely. Is it something we’ve talked about as a club? yes we have. I still try to keep my vision totally on the field and look at things we’re doing well and hopefully move forward.”

Despite his optimism, the Cubs are on pace to lose 100 games. Can they finish at .500?

“I can focus on today, and things we have to do against the Mets,” Renteria said. “I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves at the end. I’m the one who has to be held to task, and so be it.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/20 Trade chatter

Cubs manager Rick Renteria says he doesn’t listen to all the trade rumors, even though two of his pitchers, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, will likely be mentioned often.

“I’ll be honest, I really don’t concern myself with that too much,” Renteria said. “I can only control what I have before me.”

Jeff Samardzija will try for his first win of the season on Wednesday against a team that might be interested in acquiring him.

“Just because he hasn’t had the victories at the end of his scoreline, doesn’t mean he hasn’t pitched victoriously,” Renteria said of Samardzija, who is 0-1 with a 1.62 ERA, second best in the National League. “He’s pitched great. He’s mature, he’s a man who knows he’s doing what he can do, controlling what he can control, and every single time he takes the ball, he’ll try to do the same thing. Most people keep asking me if he’s getting frustrated. I see a guy going out there every single day who is as professional as I can depict any person being and knowing he can only do what he can do.”

Does Renteria need to talk to Samardzija or Jason Hammel, who also could be trade bait, about dealing with the rumors? The Cubs manager says no, and that both pitchers are “in a pretty good place.”

“If anybody has shown resiliency, it’s Jeff,” he said.

– Carrie Muskat

5/10 Extra bases

* The Cubs are 2-7 in one-run games after Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Braves, and 3-13 in games decided by two runs or less.

* Mike Olt hit his third homer in as many games on Friday. He leads NL rookies with seven homers and 17 RBIs. He’s the first Cubs rookie with at least six homers by May 10 since Geovany Soto did so in 2008. That year, Soto won NL Rookie of the Year.

* Jeff Samardzija will try for his first win of the season Saturday night. He has a 1.62 ERA, second in the NL. He’s winless in his last 13 starts, dating to Aug. 24. He’s the first big league pitcher to have at least five starts, a sub 2.00 ERA and no wins by May 10 since Ryan Dempster did so with the Cubs in 2012, when he posted a 1.02 ERA in five starts but was winless.

* The Cubs bullpen has eight save opportunities this year, fewest in baseball.

* Manager Rick Renteria has used 33 different lineups in the first 34 games. The only time he used the same lineup was April 19 vs. the Reds and April 23 vs. the D-Backs: Bonifacio, Lake, Rizzo, Ruggiano, Castro, Olt, Castillo, Barney and the pitcher.

5/8 Patience

The Cubs’ offense has scuffled in three games against the White Sox, totaling four hits in each of the games, all losses. In the series finale on Thursday, Ryan Kalish and Luis Valbuena were inserted at the top of the lineup to try to get things going.

“Those are obviously important pieces,” manager Rick Renteria said of his Nos. 1-2 hitters. “The reality is we have to keep the line moving. One of the things we’re trying to do is make sure guys don’t put too much pressure on themselves. If one guy is not getting a pitch to hit, then let the next guy get it done.”

The Cubs are ranked 13th in batting average in the National League, and hitting just .195 with runners in scoring position. Renteria said he’s hoping players don’t try to do too much to turn things around.

“Right now, they’ve hit a little valley — ‘Don’t panic,'” Renteria said of his message to the players. “Do what you can, grind out at-bats, and put a nice line together and see what we can do with that.'”

Some of the players are still developing, he said.

“The biggest thing I can bring to this picture, quite frankly, is patience,” Renteria said. “They need to know that we know they have a skill set that will work, we believe that, we believe that there’s a process in which they’re adjusting and learning maybe new concepts or reaffirming concepts they’ve heard in the past.

“We’re trying to see if we can see some consistency with all the work they’re doing with [the hitting coaches],” he said. “The other thing is let them know we’re confident in them and hopefully that confidence translates into them being comfortable and going out and playing the game the way they want to.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/8 Setting the tone

One year ago, the Cubs were 13-20 and 8 1/2 games back after 33 games in the National League Central. The Cubs are 11-21 heading into Thursday’s game against the White Sox. GM Jed Hoyer said he’s pleased with what manager Rick Renteria has done so far.

“Very happy,” Hoyer said when asked about the rookie manager. “He creates a great environment for these guys. A lot of guys are playing much better than last year.

“We’ve given him a very young team,” Hoyer said. “We’ve given him a very young bullpen that doesn’t have a lot of experience. I think he’s managed that really well.”

Renteria also has had to deal with injuries to two pitchers projected as key pieces in the bullpen, Jose Veras and Pedro Strop. Two of the outfielders, Justin Ruggiano and Ryan Sweeney, are sidelined with hamstring injuries.

Renteria has done his best to keep things upbeat.

“I like the tone,” Hoyer said. “Obviously, the results, the wins and losses, are probably no different than it was with Dale [Sveum last year]. We’re not in a place right now where we’re going to evaluate [Renteria] based on the standings in the paper in the morning.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/7 Extra bases – Part II

* The Cubs placed reliever Pedro Strop on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday with a moderate left groin strain and recalled lefty Zac Rosscup from Triple-A Iowa. Strop was pulled from Tuesday’s game after facing five batters. He apparently injured his leg a few days ago while working out, but said he was ready to pitch. Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Strop was available.

“I didn’t think [his leg] was an issue, quite frankly,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He’d been working and did fine in his flat ground. All indications were that he was fine.”

* Mike Olt is trying to relax, and maybe being the designated hitter for one game will help. The third baseman was the DH Wednesday. He is 2-for-23 in his last nine games. Renteria has opted to platoon Olt with left-handed hitting Luis Valbuena at third base, so not playing every day has been new.

“It’s hard — you could be struggling a little bit and tend to put a little more pressure on yourself and that’s what’s been going on with me right now,” Olt said. “I’ve had some talks with guys on the team and coaches and am going to go back to being relaxed. There’s no excuse to say, ‘Hey, I’m not playing, this is why I’m struggling.’ It’s more me putting too much pressure on myself. I’m going to go back to having fun.”

He’s not worried about his hitting.

“I’ve been through way worse slumps than this,” he said.

* Maybe the Cubs should’ve let Travis Wood bat for himself?

“Everyone talks about it,” Renteria said. “Obviously, because he hit the grand slam against them before and because he swings the bat well, it’s an
outside thought but you wouldn’t do that.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/2 Turn the page

The Cubs finished the first month of play with 17 losses, the most since the 1997 team dropped 19 in April.

“Obviously, the record is disappointing,” GM Jed Hoyer said Friday. “One thing we haven’t done a good job of in three consecutive years is we’ve fallen on our face right out of the gate in April. It’s really been kind of groundhog day — closer issues in April and bullpen woes.

“I think all three years, we’ve had a better run differential and lost one-run games early,” he said. “That’s been really frustrating. We should be better than our record. Ultimately, you are who you are.”

Manager Rick Renteria admitted he does look at the standings, but not now.

“I really do look at the standings at the end,” Renteria said. “That’s when either we’re going home or we’re staying. Right now, I just worry about today.”

– Carrie Muskat

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

4/19 Time for a chat

Cubs manager Rick Renteria did talk to the players after Friday’s game, and said it’s part of an on-going process of communication.

“Yesterday, we had a talk with everybody to talk about the same things we’ve talked about since spring — it takes a lot of focus and intensity and commitment to have a chance to win,” Renteria said Saturday. “And not even a guarantee, just a chance [to win]. Winning is not an accident, it is a process and something you can put together with different means.”

Renteria was not happy with what he called “sloppy” play by the Cubs in the 4-1 loss to the Reds.

– Carrie Muskat


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