Rick Renteria was formally introduced to the Chicago media on Thursday and donned a Cubs’ jersey for the first time. Renteria will wear no. 16, his old high school number.
Renteria has contacted all of the players via texts, phone calls or emails and has been watching video of the players as he continued his recovery from right hip surgery. Renteria indicated one of the first calls he made was to Starlin Castro. Renteria talked to Castro in length and called him a “wonderful kid.” Renteria explained that Castro is “willing to do whatever we ask” but acknowledged he has to get to know Castro and to figure out what “moves” him.
Rick Renteria played his first game in the majors at Wrigley and he always wanted to manage the Cubs according to a report from the Sun-Times. The Cubs’ new skipper plans on meeting with his coaching staff soon in Arizona.
Theo Epstein passed on some very good news about Arodys Vizcaino during his time with the media on Thursday. Epstein said that Vizcaino was hitting 98 mph on the gun with electric stuff during six outings in the Dominican Instructional League. Epstein sees Vizcaino as an option in the pen for next season.
Many have felt that Arodys Vizcaino would end up as a late inning reliever in the majors. Vizcaino had the stuff to be a dominant force in the backend of a bullpen prior to his arm issues. The Cubs looked at him as a starter when he was acquired from the Braves in July of 2012 and he could still end up as a starter. But a healthy Vizcaino, either as a starter or a reliever, would be a good way for the Cubs to start Spring Training.
Rule 5 Draft
News surfaced on Thursday that the Cubs had forfeited their first pick (fourth overall) in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft to the Phillies to settle a grievance over an injury that allowed the Cubs to keep Lendy Castillo in the organization.
The Cubs selected Castillo from the Phillies in the 2011 Rule 5 Draft and he broke camp on the active roster. Castillo was placed on the DL on May 12 with a left groin strain. Castillo remained on the DL officially until August 11 when his roster status was changed.
The Phillies questioned if Castillo was actually injured or if his left groin strain was an injury of convenience to keep him in the organization.
Multiple reports suggested the Cubs had no plans of taking a player in the Rule 5 Draft and settled the grievance with the Phillies by surrendering the pick.
Javier Baez and Kris Bryant
The Cubs do not have any plans of moving Javier Baez off of shortstop, for now. Theo Epstein addressed Baez’s possible position change on Thursday and said Baez is athletic enough with the right instincts to “be a natural at playing at other positions.”
Epstein thinks that if and when the time comes for Baez to change positions he will be able to make a smooth transition. Baez is expected to begin the 2014 season as the I-Cubs’ shortstop. Baez will be in big league camp this spring and will play plenty of short, as well as other positions.
Neither Javier Baez nor Kris Bryant will break camp with the big league team. Both players need development time in the minors according to Epstein and the plan is for Bryant to remain in the minors the entire season. That is, unless he dominates both the Double-A and Triple-A levels and forces the Cubs’ hand.
News and Notes
When asked what the Cubs major goal was in putting together the coaching staff, Theo Epstein pointed to finding people who could teach and communicate. Epstein said, “I think it takes a special personality, as well as experience and having the technical knowledge. It takes a special personality to be able to reach the modern player and to dig deep and engage and relate to them and not to relate to the player on a perfunctory level, but find out what makes him tick and impact him on and off the field in a positive way. That’s what we were looking for.”
Theo Epstein indicated on Thursday that Kyle Hendricks would not break camp with the Cubs because he needs time to develop at the Triple-A level. Epstein would not rule out Hendricks making his big league debut at some point during the 2014 season.
Comcast SportsNet asked the question, can Rick Renteria get through to Starlin Castro?
The White Sox signed former Cubs’ reliever RHP Zach Putnam to a minor league contract.
And last, but not least, Cubs’ pitchers and catchers report to the new facility in Mesa on Feb. 13.