Results tagged ‘ Rick Renteria ’

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

4/18 Reds 4, Cubs 1

Jeff Samardzija posted his fourth quality start on Friday but it wasn’t enough as the Reds beat the Cubs, 4-1, in front of 28,699 at Wrigley Field. Samardzija is winless in his last 10 starts. The Cubs have scored a total of four runs in his four starts this year.

“You keep going out there and doing your work,” Samardzija said. “Today was a tough day to hit with that wind. You just go out and keep doing your work and understand everybody is doing their job. You can’t let it get to you, for sure.”

* Manager Rick Renteria met with the players after the game, although he would not confirm the meeting.

“He said a lot of good things,” Welington Castillo said of the Cubs manager. “He’s a positive guy.”

Renteria said he’s not focused on the statistics, but what he sees on the field.

“I concern myself more with the way we approach the game,” Renteria said. “If our approach is good and we’re really focused on what we’re supposed to be doing both at the plate and in the field, I’m good with it. Today, I think we were a little sloppy in general, and Jeff really kept us in the ballgame throughout.”

* On the plus side, the Cubs did snap a 24-scoreless inning stretch with Luis Valbuena’s RBI single in the seventh.

* Anthony Rizzo had two hits, and was 13-for-26 at home this season. He also combined with Samardzija on three straight plays in the seventh inning.

“Let them roll it over and let me get to first,” Samardzija said. “I think we’ve seen enough out of Riz at first to know he’s a premium first baseman defensively. I always need to be on my toes when the ball heads that way because he plays deep and plays in the hole. We’re kind of on the same page. I’d rather have him cover a lot of ground. We’ve made that play a lot of times. It’s nice to have that over there, it’s a nice commodity to have a first baseman who can pick it like Riz.”

* Playing the NL Central is a good test for the Cubs.

“They’re a good team,” Samardzija said of the Reds. “We’re not playing a fifth-place team. They’re a complete team. They can hit, they can play defense, they can pitch. When they’re guys are healthy in the bullpen, they can close games out. When you play the Reds, Cardinals and Pirates and the Brewers now, you’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game and play clean defense and put some runs on the board and pitch well if you want to win games. I think it’s a good learning curve for us to understand to win games in the big leagues we need all three facets of the game to be clean. You play the good teams and they take advantage of your mistakes, and you can’t give them any breathing room.”

* The Reds stole five bases against the Cubs. It’s the first time a team has done that against Chicago since Atlanta did so on Aug. 14, 2011.

– 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

4/8 Renteria 1st to get ejected

The Cubs’ Rick Renteria became the first Major League manager to be ejected this season when he was tossed in the ninth inning for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Jeff Nelson. Managers do have access to expanded instant replay this year but cannot challenge an umpire’s calls on balls and strikes. Renteria was the first Major League manager to use instant replay, doing so in Pittsburgh on Opening Day. Told that he also was first to be ejected, he shrugged.

“OK,” Renteria said. “I don’t know if that’s very good, but OK.”

The Pirates led 7-6 in the ninth when Renteria complained from the dugout about a call on Jose Veras’ 1-2 pitch to Jordy Mercer. The pitch was called a ball, and Renteria felt it was a strike. Nelson apparently had heard enough, and signaled that the rookie manager was gone. Renteria came onto the field to discuss the matter further, but Nelson’s call was upheld.

What was the issue?

“That was between me and Jeff,” Renteria said.

“He’s a fiery guy,” Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson said of Renteria. “He’s going to stand up for his team. He’s going to speak for what he believes and fight for the guys in the clubhouse. He sees us out there battling. It’s part of the game.

“If I do a better job as a starter, going deeper, and keeping the score down, he doesn’t have to get to that point,” said Jackson, who gave up four runs in the first inning in the Cubs’ 7-6 loss to the Pirates.

– Carrie Muskat

4/8 To platoon or not

In the first seven games of the season, Cubs manager Rick Renteria has used a lefty-righty platoon at third base and the outfield with his lineup, and said he’ll continue to do that.

“At this point, we’re still allowing these guys the opportunity to use the splits that end up existing, righty-lefty,” Renteria said. “At some point, these guys will end up playing against both righties and lefties.”

So far, left-handed hitting Luis Valbuena, Ryan Sweeney and Ryan Kalish are starting against right-handers, while right-handed hitting Mike Olt and Junior Lake face the lefty starting pitchers. Emilio Bonifacio, a switch-hitter, usually switches to the outfield against southpaws.

At some point, though, Renteria said he will likely abandon the platoon. It depends on the player.

“It’s the seventh game of the season today,” Renteria said Tuesday. “As the season progresses, and I start to see them playing more and they have pinch-hit at-bats in the ballgame … a lot of those things are giving me a lot of information and feedback leading me to where we might ultimately go.”

Performance is key, he said.

“You might have someone say, ‘Well, I can’t perform unless I have four, five regular at-bats every single day,'” Renteria said. “The reality is every time you get an opportunity to hit, that’s an opportunity. How good the at-bat is, how the approach is — you don’t have to get a hit to have a good approach. It could be a productive at-bat without getting a hit. You take all those factors into play and hopefully make the right decision.”

– Carrie Muskat

4/5 Phillies 2, Cubs 0

Jeff Samardzija posted the fourth quality start in five games for the Cubs. Emilio Bonifacio and Starlin Castro got on base five times. Now, if the Cubs could just drive runners in — and keep Chase Utley quiet — they might turn things around. Utley had three hits, including his second home run in as many games, and scored the Phillies’ second run to post a 2-0 victory Saturday over the Cubs in front of 30,651 fans bundled up to deal with the brisk game-time temperature of 39 degrees.

Samardzija took the loss in his first start at Wrigley Field this season, giving up six hits over seven innings and striking out eight. It was the fourth quality start in five games for a Cubs pitcher, and the Chicago starters now have a 1.95 ERA this season (seven earned runs over 32 1/3 innings).

Renteria, still waiting to hear “Go Cubs Go” played after a home win, loaded the lineup with right-handed hitters Mike Olt, Junior Lake and Justin Ruggiano against Lee, who was the third left-handed starter the Cubs have faced in five games. Lee shrugged it off, and scattered 10 hits over seven innings. But the Cubs didn’t help themselves, stranding 10 runners, and now are 4-for-40 with runners in scoring position in five games.

“You do have to be relaxed and know the pitcher is on the ropes a little bit,” Renteria said. “You talk about it and see if it starts to take hold, an understanding of that particular situation, so guys can be a little more relaxed.”

Samardzija knows his teammates are doing everything they can.

“I see these guys work every day and I know what they’re doing,” Samardzija said. “If it was a different situation and I thought they were lazy, it’d be different. Guys come to work every day and do everything they can. It’s early in the season, and we’ll keep going, keep pushing and figure this out.”

Renteria plans on repeating the message.

“It’s OK if it’s a broken record — you keep repeating it and you keep talking about it,” Renteria said. “You never stop talking about it until you start to understand it and get a good feel for it. A lot of it is more games, just keep getting in more games. I know we didn’t come up with a victory today but for me, it was a ballgame we were in the whole way.”

– Carrie Muskat

4/3 Cubs 3, Pirates 2

The Cubs apparently play better on less sleep. Mike Olt hit his first Major League home run to help Jason Hammel win his Cubs debut and post a 3-2 victory Thursday over the Pirates, giving Chicago manager Rick Renteria his first victory.

There was no beer shower or champagne bottle waiting for Renteria but he was soaked because of the rain that started late in the game and drenched his lineup card and game notes.

“I was hoping the water would cleanse me a little bit,” he said.

The win came after the Cubs opened with two extra-innings losses, including Wednesday’s 16-inning marathon that ended shortly after 1 a.m. ET Thursday. It was a quick turnaround for the 12:35 p.m. start in the series finale.

Hammel wanted to finish the game. The right-hander, who signed a one-year, $6 million deal in February, days before pitchers and catchers reported, held the Pirates to two hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out five. The Cubs bullpen was short-handed because of the extra innings the night before.

“I was pretty surprised the way I was moving through the game,” Hammel said. “I wanted to complete it and take it as far as I could have.”

Emilio Bonifacio can apparently fall out of bed and hit. He led off the game with a single, his 10th hit in his 13th at-bat, then stole second, and two outs later, scored on Anthony Rizzo’s single.

“He’s on fire and hopefully he continues,” Renteria said of Bonifacio, now 11-for-16 for the season. “We’re seeing a lot of guys have good at-bats. We had some balls hit well. We’re on the right track.”

Bonifacio remembers a hot streak like this when he played for the Marlins in 2009.

“I’m just swinging at strikes,” he said. “That’s the main difference.”

Bonifacio doubled to open the third, and scored one batter later when Justin Ruggiano grounded into a double play. When Bonifacio grounded out in the fifth, the crowd of 11,418 at PNC Park cheered. Finally.

“I was laughing — it was funny,” Bonifacio said. “That’s part of the game.”

Olt, who hoped to continue his spring comeback story this season, made it 2-0 with a leadoff home run in the second off Wandy Rodriguez, hitting an opposite-field shot to right for his first big league homer. He showed exactly what the Cubs — and most likely the Rangers — were hoping for. Chicago acquired the third baseman last July; he’d struggled with vision problems which apparently have cleared up.

“That ball, down and away, to hit it the other way with some power, it shows you the kind of thump he has in his stick,” Renteria said of Olt.

“It’s not that I go out there trying for [home runs],” Olt said, “but it was nice to get the first hit out of the way and that it happened to be a home run makes it a little sweeter.”

Now, the Cubs head home 1-2.

“We didn’t want to go home 0-3,” Bonifacio said. “We just played two really good games. This win was really important for us.”

Friday will be the Cubs’ home opener. Renteria has yet to see his office at Wrigley Field.

“I didn’t think it was going to be such a relief [to get the win] but it’s quite a relief, quite honestly,” Renteria said.

– Carrie Muskat

4/3 Cubs lineup and more

The Cubs got a quick wake up call for Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates at PNC Park. In case you didn’t stay awake, the Cubs lost, 4-3, in 16 innings on Wednesday night in a game that took 5 hours 55 minutes, and ended early Thursday.

Here’s the lineup:

Bonifacio CF
Castro SS
Ruggiano RF
Rizzo 1B
Lake LF
Olt 3B
Barney 2B
Baker C
Hammel P

* As of now, Carlos Villanueva is scheduled to start Sunday for the Cubs against the Phillies. Rick Renteria and pitching coach Chris Bosio will discuss their options on the flight home and on Friday in Chicago.

* Renteria moved Castro to the No. 2 spot in the order to try and ease some “anxiousness” that he noticed.

* Renteria was wide awake Thursday.

“It’s deflating [to lose extra inning games] if you want it to be,” Renteria said. “I’m not going to come in here and have these guys laying down and being sad. I’m going to play my music and I’ll come in here every single day ready to go and you say I have a lot of energy, well, that’s what I want those guys to have, too.”

What type of music?

“Everything — rock, pop, salsa, jazz,” Renteria said. “Whatever it takes.”

– Carrie Muskat

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