Results tagged ‘ Rick Renteria ’

3/31 Game 1: Pirates 1, Cubs 0

Neil Walker spoiled Rick Renteria’s managerial debut. Walker smacked a walkoff home run in the 10th inning Monday to lift the Pirates to a 1-0 victory over the Cubs on a sun-splashed day at PNC Park. Walker connected on a 3-2 pitch from Carlos Villanueva, who won the fifth spot in the rotation, but was not scheduled to start until Sunday. It was Walker’s first career walkoff hit.

The Cubs had chances, stranding eight batters in the game, and went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Renteria made his managerial debut in front of 39,833, the largest regular season crowd in PNC Park history. He also was the first to use expanded instant replay in the history of Major League Baseball when he challenged a play at first base in the fifth inning.

This was Jeff Samardzija’s second straight Opening Day start, and second in a row at PNC Park. One year ago, he gave up two hits over eight shutout innings in the Cubs’ win. On Monday, he threw seven shutout innings.

“You can only control what you can control,” Samardzija said about the lack of offense. “[Pitchers] have a bat, too. We have a say in how it turns out. We need to take advantage of every opportunity we get. Ultimately, we’re out there pitching and that’s our job. We’re not here to speculate, we’re not here to say this or that. We’re pitchers and we’re out there to pitch. These guys are working hard and we have their back 100 percent. The quicker we can get them in the dugout, the better chance we have to score some runs.”

Renteria, 52, has come full circle. He made his big league debut at Three Rivers Stadium with the Pirates on Sept. 14, 1986, against the Cubs.

The Cubs batted .218 last year with RISP, worst in the National League. Anthony Rizzo doesn’t expect a repeat of that.

“We’re a very confident group,” Rizzo said. “It’s a good thing. There’s a lot of good energy in the dugout and the clubhouse before the game. It’s a tough loss, obviously, but it’s one game. No one’s going home yet. It’s nice to have the energy in here. Runs will be scored.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/31 Cubs test instant replay

Cubs manager Rick Renteria made history as the first to test baseball’s new expanded instant replay rule in the fifth inning Monday.

The Cubs had runners at first and second with nobody out when pitcher Jeff Samardzija bunted toward third base side. Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano fielded the ball, and threw to third baseman Pedro Alverez to get the runner, and he then fired to second baseman Neil Walker, who was covering at first.

Samardzija signaled safe as he crossed the bag but first base umpire Bob Davidson called the pitcher out. Renteria went out to talk to Davidson, and challenged the call. Davidson and home plate umpire John Hirschbeck went to the headsets and reviewed the play, and the call was confirmed.

The replay was shown on the video scoreboard at PNC Park.

The Cubs have video coordinator Naoto Masamoto and quality assurance coach Jose Castro as the eyes in the clubhouse, watching replays of the plays.

“I think like all of us, it’s going to be something that’s ongoing, correcting ourselves, setting up a system to communicate with each other,” Renteria said before the game. “I’m sure we’ll muff some and get some right. The process will be developed and perfected over time. It’s new to everybody and we’re all cognizant of that and we’ll keep trying to do the best we can with that.”

How will Renteria know when to challenge a call?

“First of all, your eyes tell you what’s going on,” he said. “Then, as soon as that happens, obviously, I talk to my bench coach [Brandon Hyde] and we’re on the horn communicating with the people who are going to be reviewing the play and then I’ll try to set it up and look in and get a feel for a signal and we’ll go from there.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/30 Opening Day eve …

On Monday, the games count. It was snowing and sleeting in Pittsburgh Saturday night when the Cubs arrived from Phoenix. They’ll kick off the 2014 season on Monday at PNC Park, and the forecast calls for lots of sunshine and temperatures in the upper 50s. There is zero chance of precipitation. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. CT.

* The Cubs are 75-61-2 all-time on Opening Day, including a 46-38 record on the road. They are looking to win consecutive Opening Day games for the first time since winning four straight from 2003-06.

* Last year, the Cubs had three new pitchers in the rotation in Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman and Carlos Villanueva. This year, four of the five pitchers in the Cubs’ season-opening starting rotation are returnees: Jeff Samardzija, Jackson, Travis Wood and Villanueva. Jason Hammel is the lone new starting pitcher.

* Luis Valbuena finished tied for the Major League lead (with the Reds’ Chris Heisey) with six home spring home runs. Javier Baez and Mike Olt were tied for third with five homers apiece.

* Ryan Kalish’s six stolen bases were tied for fifth in the Cactus League with the D-backs’ Tony Campana. Emilio Bonifacio’s four triples were tied for third in the Cactus League. Alberto Cabrera’s three saves were tied for second.

* The Cubs smacked 36 home runs this spring, most in the Majors, but the team’s .237 batting average was the lowest among Cactus League clubs.

* Cubs pitchers posted 10 saves, tied for the Cactus League lead with the Giants.

* The 2014 season marks manager Rick Renteria’s 16th year as a manager or coach following a 13-year playing career (1980-89, 1991-94). He spent the previous six seasons on the Padres coaching staff, including the last three as the club’s bench coach (2011-13).

3/29 Reach for the stars

Rick Renteria closed his first spring as Cubs manager Saturday with a 9-8 comeback win over the Diamondbacks. He told reporters in Phoenix that he was not concerned about the low external expectations for his team this year.

“I’ve always expected to do things with success in mind,” he said. “I’m not changing my approach or my attitude. That’s my expectations of my club. I think they have expectations of themselves. Quite frankly, if you don’t set goals for yourself there’s nothing to shoot for.

“It’s kind of hard to drive yourself. You need to have expectations and I think we should reach for the stars.”

When asked what “reaching for the stars” meant, Renteria said: “I want to win the World Series, absolutely. Why not?’

The Cubs haven’t done that since 1908. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2008 and haven’t had a winning season since 2009. They are coming off a 66-96 season and Renteria is the club’s fourth manager since Mike Quade replaced Lou Piniella with 37 games to go in the 2010 season.

The former Padres bench coach said he felt comfortable in his first spring as a big-league manager.

“I thought it went great,” Renteria said. “I had a lot of good people around me. They really made it easy for me. The transition was actually very nice. Everybody worked very hard. Thankfully, there weren’t a whole lot of complications.”

3/21 Starlin Castro update

Starlin Castro is running out of time if he is going to be ready by Opening Day. The Cubs shortstop did run the bases on Thursday and is making good progress, Rick Renteria said on Friday. This Sunday will be the three-week mark since Castro suffered a strained right hamstring. There’s no time set for when Castro can get into a Cactus League game or even a Minor League game to get at-bats.

“We’re trying to get him some at-bats, possibly in the Minor Leagues first, leading off, things of that nature, and trying to get him in baseball shape,” Renteria said Friday. “He’s been doing a lot of activity but getting him out there, standing, playing five, six innings is important to us. We’re going to try to progress him as quickly as possible.”

Do the Cubs have a backup plan?

“Not even a consideration at this point,” Renteria said. “He’s doing well.”

However, the Cubs have had Darwin Barney play shortstop and also have Emilio Bonifacio and Donnie Murphy as options there.

“Right now, it’s Friday, and [Castro] went through everything extremely well, and I have nine days left,” Renteria said. “I’ve got to set up a schedule for him to participate before we can determine [if he’ll be ready].”

Castro is coming off a disappointing season in which he batted .245, and has said he wants to get back to being the player who was named to the All-Star team and led the league in hits.

“He’s a guy who we all know physically we have to get in a particular type of shape,” Renteria said. “Mentally, if he’s in a good state of mind, anybody who has a sense of confidence and focus and determination, you have the ability to do a lot of things. Hopefully that will play into his ability to overcome this little setback that’s occurred this spring.”

Renteria called it a “little setback” but last spring, Castro strained his left hamstring, and only missed two weeks. He’s been out nearly three this year.

“I know he wants to play,” Renteria said. “It affected him, he hated this setback this spring, obviously. He wants to show everybody and have a comeback type season. He looks like he’s ready to get back out there on the field.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/12 Instant replay

Cubs manager Rick Renteria took advantage of the new instant replay rules and challenged a call in the fourth inning Wednesday night. With one out in the inning, and the game tied at 2, Ryan Kalish chopped the ball to Mariners shortstop Brad Miller, who threw to first. Kalish was called out on the close play. Renteria went out to first base umpire Dan Bellino and challenged the call. After Bellino and umpire Hal Gibson conferred on headsets with someone in New York who reviewed the play, the call was upheld.

Wednesday was the third Cubs game in which instant replay was available. Renteria did not challenge a call in the first game, and he was not at the second game because it was a split squad game in Tempe, and bench coach Brandon Hyde was acting manager. Instant replay also will be in effect March 16 and March 19.

– Carrie Muskat

3/7 Just like riding a bike …

Darwin Barney wasn’t sure how it would feel being back at shortstop, and the Indians didn’t waste any time testing him on Thursday. Cleveland leadoff man Michael Bourn hit a slow roller to Barney to start the game, and he cleanly fielded it and threw the runner out. And that was the last ball hit to him. A Gold Glove second baseman in 2012, Barney started at short while the Cubs wait for Starlin Castro to heal from a mild hamstring strain.

“There was a time when going back to shortstop felt more comfortable than playing second base and that was probably the first two years when I moved,” said Barney, who was a shortstop before switching to second full time in 2011. “Over time, that feeling goes away. Now I felt like I had to really focus on certain things.

“After a few innings, I felt really comfortable and you find out how much you miss that position,” he said. “It’s part of the game. I found out I’m a really good second baseman and I’m happy there, too.”

What’s next? Manager Rick Renteria says he’ll continue to rotate the infielders. Barney expects he’ll be back at second base but Renteria is getting to know the roster and what the players can and can’t do.

“As we continue to go through our workouts, he’ll remember,” Renteria said of Barney at short. “I think a lot of his movements are natural. He was over there a long time.”

On Friday, Barney was the designated hitter in one of the Cubs’ split squad games, which was a chance for more at-bats. He wouldn’t mind more playing time at short.

“I think I have value [at shortstop],” he said. “I’m pretty good over there and I like it over there, too.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/6 Baez OK after foul ball

Cubs manager Rick Renteria wasn’t surprised that Javier Baez’s left ankle hurt when he fouled a ball off it.

“I was saying to him, ‘If the ball came off the bat like a normal human being’s ball comes off the bat, you would’ve been OK,'” Renteria said Thursday, “‘But since yours comes off like a bullet train, I would’ve gone down, too.'”

Baez lay on the ground for a few seconds, but stayed in the game. In his next at-bat, he hit an opposite field home run. Guess he was feeling OK.

“That was a great at-bat,” Renteria said of the home run in the Cubs’ loss to the Rockies. “Once he got to two strikes, the approach is significantly important. Most times, guys like Javy still want to drive the ball, but he’s capable of driving the ball to any part of the ballpark.”

It’s all part of the development process for Baez, who will open the 2014 season at shortstop for Triple-A Iowa. He’s been working at second and third as well in early sessions with coach Gary Jones, and Renteria said they will start Baez in a game at one of those positions soon.

The Cubs’ top prosect, Baez has been the center of attention this spring.

“It’s great, great for Javy, great for the Cubs,” Renteria said. “He’s an exciting player, as you guys all have seen. it’s not like you can hide it.”

And he does hit the ball hard, which is why Renteria cringed a little when he saw Baez on the ground after the foul ball.

“When he went down, I didn’t know if it was his foot, or shin,” Renteria said. “I just know the ball comes off his bat hot and it must have hurt wherever it hit.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/3 Instant replay

Monday’s game between the Cubs and Brewers will be the first to use Major League Baseball’s expanded instant-replay review system, which allows managers the right to challenge at least one call. The game, which is being played in Maryvale, can be seen on MLB.TV.

Cubs manager Rick Renteria won’t have a flag in his pocket to throw on the field if he wants to challenge a call.

“I think the protocol will be if you want to challenge, you have to go out and talk to the umpire and either invoke it or he may ask me to invoke it depending on how long you stand out there conversing with him,” Renteria said.

Renteria said the umpires will try to resolve the disagreement first.

“I would imagine that if my gut is telling me immediately that I saw it completely different [he’ll challenge] — but you don’t want to waste it if you don’t have to,” Renteria said. “There’s going to be some availability as it’s set up to get the information that tells you if [the call] is good or not.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/3 Castro out 7-10 days

Starlin Castro will be sidelined seven to 10 days because of a mild right hamstring strain that should not hinder the shortstop from being ready for the regular season, Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Monday.

“From what we gathered, it’s similar to what happened to him last year at this time,” Renteria said of Castro’s injury, suffered in the first inning Sunday when he tried to steal second. “It’s seven to 10 days and we’re just being cautious with him. It shouldn’t set him back for the regular season.”

Castro was sidelined for two weeks last spring with a sore left hamstring. After Sunday’s game, he said the injury suffered on Sunday was “not too bad like last year” and that the team removed him as a precautionary measure. A year ago, Castro could barely walk after he was hurt.

“This doesn’t seem to be anything like last year to the degree that it was,” Renteria said. “He’s walking around pretty good now.”

The Cubs will give Emilio Bonifacio and Darwin Barney more starts at shortstop while Castro heals and also look at top prospect Javier Baez. They also have infielders Arismendy Alcantara and Jeudy Valdez in camp.

“What it allows us to do is see other guys at that position and recognize if Barney can go over there and [Bonifacio],” Renteria said. “It’ll give guys playing time.”

Castro spent more time this offseason on conditioning and reported to camp in good shape. The Cubs sent strength coach Tim Buss to the Dominican Republic for three weeks to work with the shortstop, who also spent four weeks at a training facility in Bradenton, Fla. Castro is coming off a season in which he batted a career-low .245.

– Carrie Muskat

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