8/16/2013 8:41 P.M. ET
Villanueva's move to 'pen not a demotion
Versatility gives Cubs experienced reliever, allows them to see Arrieta in rotation
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Carlos Villanueva's versatility has kept him in the big leagues, and it was also one of the reasons he was bumped from the Cubs' rotation.
Villanueva, originally scheduled to start Friday, is back in the bullpen because Chicago wants to take a look at Jake Arrieta, acquired from Baltimore in the Scott Feldman deal.
"Villanueva didn't do anything to get taken out of a rotation," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Friday. "It's more about getting a young kid here who we want to see pitch and finish out the season in the rotation."
Villanueva has seen Arrieta pitch, and he could understand the change.
"If we can have a guy in here who can be a contributor in that role -- and I think he can be, because he has great stuff -- then we have to see what it is," Villanueva said. "You can't have six guys or seven [in the rotation]. I wish we could. I'm not super excited to not be starting, because I wanted to be starting. But if this is where I can help, I'll gladly do it and accept my assignment. I always have."
The Cubs could use an experienced arm in the bullpen with the loss of Matt Guerrier, who underwent surgery on his right elbow Friday and is done for the season.
Villanueva began the year in the rotation, then switched to the bullpen when Matt Garza returned from the disabled list. In 15 starts, Villanueva was 1-7 with a 4.50 ERA, and he has a 3.66 ERA in 17 relief appearances.
"I felt I did a good job and I gave the team a chance to win," Villanueva said. "I'm grateful that I got the opportunity to start. If it's the Cubs or another team that sees me doing that in the future again, then I'm ready for it. Right now, the Cubs need me to be in the bullpen, and that's where I'll be and that's where I'll do my best."
Villanueva is one start shy of his single-season career high for starts (16), set last year with the Blue Jays. But he also pitched in 22 games in relief for Toronto. In his career, Villanueva has started 71 out of 333 games. He admits that being versatile can be "a pain in the butt," but knows it's kept him in the big leagues.
"Now I'm at a stage in my career, I want my motivation to be more than just being in the big leagues. I want it to be winning and a winning atmosphere," he said. "If bringing Arrieta here and having [Chris] Rusin have more seasoning behind him to help for next year, it shows me that next year if I'm in the bullpen and we're popping champagne here, I'll have no worries in the world."
Sveum weighs in on instant replay proposal
CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Dale Sveum is a big football fan, and next year, he may get to throw a challenge flag just like NFL coaches.
Major League Baseball announced Thursday it is proposing new instant replay rules, which will be initiated when a manager informs the umpire he wants to challenge a play. Managers will be allowed one challenge in the first six innings and two more from the seventh through the end of the game. Major League owners will formally vote on the issue in November.
"It'll be interesting to throw a flag from the dugout," Sveum said. "It'll be interesting how the process works, how quick you can get information to the dugouts. You can go on and on about when and how you're going to use it."
Sveum felt the toughest calls will be the close plays at first base.
"It's very difficult for the umpires to get a bang-bang play right consistently," Sveum said. "You're going to have to rely on your players a lot. They can't get caught up in the moment."
MLB predicts having more instant replay involved will speed up the game. Sveum was doubtful.
"I don't know how it can speed the game up," the manager said. "I think they can speed up the process. If somebody is up in the booth or back in New York, they can somehow relay it right away -- 'OK, there's the flag. OK, he's wrong. OK, that's it.' I don't know if that's going to happen.
"We all want that in the NFL. It seems we get the replay quick in the NFL, and then it's a process to get back on the field."
Sveum didn't see any negatives with the proposed new rules, and he understood why there would be one challenge early in the game and two later.
"You're getting to a point in the game in later innings when you want plays gotten right," he said. "Through the course of the game, all the plays are the same, because you're talking about killing a rally or starting a rally.
"However, you get it right is the main thing. Whether it makes sense to have two at the end, or spread out to have three, period. You don't know when your rally is going to happen."
Barney happy for former manager Sandberg
CHICAGO -- When the Cubs played in Philadelphia earlier this month, second baseman Darwin Barney talked to Ryne Sandberg about his future. At the time, Sandberg, who had been Barney's Minor League manager for two seasons in the Cubs' organization, was the Phillies third-base coach.
"We talked about what his future was there and obviously, he was optimistic, but he wasn't at all thinking that it's his job," Barney said about the Phillies' managerial job. "He was just happy to be at the big league level and obviously, very humble. I think it happened a little quicker than I thought. Good for him. I think there are good things to come."
What happened on Friday was Sandberg's promotion from coach to big league manager, replacing the Phillies' Charlie Manuel as the interim manager for the remainder of the season.
Barney didn't know about the news until after Friday's Cubs game.
"I'm really happy for him," Barney said. "He's done every step to get there. He didn't cut any corners, he didn't hop on with a buddy at the big league level. He wanted to be a manager and he wanted to learn how to manage in the Minor Leagues, and watching his growth every year was kind of fun.
"I know it's only an 'interim' in front of his name, but I think he's going to do a good job, and hopefully he can hold onto that job."
Sandberg, who played 15 seasons with the Cubs, spent four years as a Minor League manager in their organization, beginning at Class A Peoria in 2007. Barney was on the team at the time, and learned a lot from the Hall of Fame second baseman.
"The main thing was his competitive nature and the way he prepared for every game, even as a manager," Barney said. "He didn't say too much when things weren't needed to be said. When he did say things, you definitely listened, because it was very timely and to the point. I think he became a players' manager pretty quick. He's a guy you think about and you want to go to battle with him."
Sandberg made it clear he wanted to manage the Cubs, but then general manager Jim Hendry bypassed him in 2011 and hired Mike Quade, who was dismissed after one season.
Sandberg endured the bus rides and the peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches and the long hours required of a Minor League manager. He didn't shy from the chores just because he was enshrined in Cooperstown.
"[Being a Hall of Famer] was the last thing on his mind," Barney said. "One of the things I thought when he left the Cubs' organization was that maybe that will help him, because now he's not Ryne Sandberg, Hall of Fame second baseman for the Chicago Cubs, but now he's Ryne Sandberg, the manager. I think that paid dividends in the end. I wish him the best of luck."
Guerrier surgery among Cubs' injury updates
CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Matt Guerrier underwent surgery Friday to repair the flexor mass in his right arm, and he will be sidelined six to eight months. Dr. Timothy Kremchek performed the procedure.
Acquired from the Dodgers in the Carlos Marmol trade, Guerrier was 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA in 15 games with the Cubs. The right-hander does not have a contract for next season, and he said before the procedure that he would like to come back to Chicago.
The Cubs did get good news on outfielder Brian Bogusevic, who has been rehabbing a strained left hamstring since July 15. Bogusevic was expected to join Triple-A Iowa to continue his rehab, and he could be activated soon. The outfielder has been playing with the AZL Cubs in the Arizona League. In six games, he was batting .286 (6-for-21), and he has played center field in four of his six games.
Infielder Luis Valbuena, sidelined since Aug. 3 with a strained right oblique, has been able to swing a fungo bat, but has yet to hit. He is able to play catch from a short distance.
Outfielder Ryan Sweeney, on the disabled list since June 30 with a left rib fracture, has been able to hit in the batting cage. He's expected to return in September.
• To make room on the active roster for Arrieta, who started Friday, the Cubs optioned right-handed pitcher Eduardo Sanchez to Triple-A Iowa. Sanchez was 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA in four relief appearances, giving up four runs over 6 1/3 innings.
• Anthony Rizzo's first Cook-Off for Cancer charity event, held Wednesday night, raised more than $150,000. Players teamed up with restaurants to serve updated takes on traditional ballpark food. All tips and money raised will benefit pediatric cancer care and research. David DeJesus and Cody Ransom raised the most money, teaming with GT Fish and Oyster in Chicago to serve goat sliders and chocolate-covered Cracker Jack.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.