Rick Renteria announced prior to Saturday’s game that Jose Veras would not be closing games for the Cubs, at least for now. Jose Veras carried a rough spring into the regular season and simply cannot throw enough strikes to close games. Veras has never been known for his command, but he has not struggled to the extent he has this year during his career.
Renteria will play matchups late in games when his team has the lead for now. Which means Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm and Hector Rondon will have opportunities to close out games. Strop already has one save under his belt this year while Grimm picked up his first win in a Cubs’ uniform on Friday night with Rondon earning his first big league save.
The Cubs sent one reliever out prior to Saturday’s game and recalled another one after the game. Brian Schlitter was optioned down to Iowa to make room on the active roster for Chris Rusin. After Rusin threw five innings in relief of Carlos Villanueva, Rusin was optioned out to make room for Blake Parker. The Cubs will officially recall Parker from Iowa prior to Sunday’s game.
The Cubs have two intriguing relievers down on the farm that should be able to help at the big league level at some point this season. Neil Ramirez was impressive in the spring and he is back on track after a rough first outing with Iowa. Arodys Vizcaino is throwing smoke out of the D-Cubs’ pen and is healthy. The front office is being cautious with Vizcaino and has him on a strict program. Vizcaino hit 98 mph on the gun with his fastball and 96 mph with sink on Thursday night and threw his slider in the mid-80s.
Jed Hoyer and Rick Renteria discussed the closer situation after Friday’s game. Renteria told Hoyer he wanted to sleep on it before he made a decision. Renteria made the decision to remove Jose Veras from the closer’s role, for now.
Jake Arrieta completed his second rehab start Thursday. Arrieta threw 66 pitches, 40 for strikes, over 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Arrieta gave up three singles, walked two batters and struck out three.
The Cubs said Friday that Arrieta will make his next rehab outing with the Smokies.
Jake Arrieta likely needs two more rehab outings before he is ready to join the Cubs’ rotation. Jed Hoyer said Saturday the team will not rush Arrieta back in April or set meaningless deadlines for his return. The Cubs want to make sure he is ready to return before activating him from the disabled list.
The Cubs will re-evaluate where Arrieta is in the rehab process after his next outing.
Jon Greenberg asked Emilio Bonifacio what ‘lo viste’ means. Bonifacio explained that when a player looks back to the dugout and shows a sideways ‘V’ over his eye after getting a hit, that is ‘lo viste’ or did you see it.
Starlin Castro told Greenberg his teammates “enjoy it a lot.”
The Houston Chronicle reported Theo Epstein was on hand to watch Texas high schooler Tyler Kolek on Friday. The right-handed, 6-foot-5, 250-pound Kolek is considered to be one of the top high school pitchers that will be available in the upcoming draft, along with lefty Brady Allen of Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego. Kolek’s fastball has been clocked at 101 mph.
The Tribune reported Friday was at least the second time “a high ranking Cubs talent evaluator has scouted Kolek in the last five weeks.” Matt Dorey watched Kolek pitch on March 6.
The front office will reportedly meet with the team’s top talent evaluators on Monday to “discuss candidates for their picks in the first four rounds.” Theo Epstein is expected to see more players the team could select in June’s draft after Monday’s meeting.
News and Notes
Wesley Wright has not appeared in a game since April 4 and the team says nothing is wrong with Wright. He got hot on Friday night but did not make an appearance in the game. And according to a report from ESPN Chicago, Wright was available on Saturday but Rick Renteria decided to let Chris Rusin pitch the eighth instead.
The Rangers announced Thursday they signed catcher Chris Gimenez to a minor league contract. The Cubs were reportedly one of the teams interested in signing him.
The Iowa Cubs placed LHP Jonathan Sanchez on the disabled list.
The Iowa Cubs added outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha to their active roster on Friday.
A Starlin Castro stat courtesy of David Kaplan and Tony Andracki … Starlin Castro at age 24 years and 17 days has 705 hits at the big league level. Pete Rose at the exact same age had 331 hits. Derek Jeter had 558 hits through his age 24 season.
Christopher Kamka posted another one of his excellent stats regarding Junior Lake’s leadoff home run. Junior Lake became the first Cubs’ player since Mark Bellhorn (July 26, 2002) to leadoff a game in St. Louis with a home run. Bellhorn took Chuck Finley deep to start the game nearly 12 years ago.