4/3/2014 7:42 P.M. ET
Extras force Cubs to consider pitching options
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Carlos Villanueva is still scheduled to start Sunday for the Cubs, but manager Rick Renteria said Thursday that he and pitching coach Chris Bosio will discuss their options on Friday when they return to Chicago.
Villanueva won a spot in the rotation this spring, but pitched in relief in the first two games Monday and Wednesday, which both went extra innings. The right-hander threw eight pitches on Monday, and another 22 in 1 1/3 innings on Wednesday.
Renteria said he would meet with the Cubs' front office on Friday prior to the team's first home game. Villanueva would've thrown a side session on Thursday, but did not because of his innings in games. Jose Veras and Wesley Wright, who both pitched in Wednesday's 16-inning game, were not available on Thursday against the Pirates, Renteria said.
"Everybody else is OK for a little bit of work," Renteria said.
The Cubs have played 26 innings in their first two games, the first time they've opened the season with back-to-back extra inning contests since 1964.
"We're moving in the right direction with our mentality and attitude, quite frankly," Renteria said. "We want to win every game and that's not changed. We're going to keep going after it. Sooner or later, they'll start to fall."
Losing extra-inning games can be difficult for a team to overcome.
"It's deflating 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. You say I have a lot of energy, well, that's what I want those guys to have, too."
His music tastes? Everything from rock to pop to salsa to jazz.
"Whatever it takes," Renteria said.
Fashion faux pas: Lake dons wrong jersey
PITTSBURGH -- Give Cubs reliever Justin Grimm an assist for helping Junior Lake stick to the team dress code.
Lake saw two grey jerseys in his locker at the visiting clubhouse at PNC Park and grabbed one for Thursday's game. But it was the wrong one.
The outfielder could've blamed lack of sleep for his mistake. The Cubs were playing a few hours after a 16-inning marathon game that ended shortly after 1 a.m. ET Thursday. Lake headed to left field with a grey road top, but it said "Chicago" across the chest. The new version, which all his teammates were wearing, says "Cubs."
Grimm was in the bullpen, which is in left-center at PNC Park, and noticed Lake's fashion faux pas.
"[Grimm] said, 'Hey, you got the wrong jersey,' and I looked," Lake said. "I thought he was joking. When I looked, I saw everybody [wearing the other jersey]. I said, '[Darn].' I said, 'What the [heck] is going on?'"
The clubhouse staff normally hangs that day's game jersey in an obvious spot in the locker.
"I see two grey, and I took one," Lake said. "Everybody was in grey, and I took the wrong grey."
Was the problem a lack of sleep? Unfortunately, no.
"I slept seven hours," Lake said.
Lake dashed into the clubhouse after the first inning and changed into the appropriate top.
Former Cub Orie remembers time with Ryno
PITTSBURGH -- On Friday, Ryne Sandberg returns to Wrigley Field with the Phillies. The former Cubs second baseman is now Philadelphia's manager, and this will be his second trip to his former home ballpark as a skipper.
Another former Cub, Kevin Orie, remembers when Sandberg was his teammate on Chicago back in 1997 and some souvenirs the second baseman gave him.
"I either got sent down or went to [Triple-A] Iowa on rehab, or both, but when I got to Iowa, I unloaded my bag and I'm getting ready to strap it on and I pulled out my cleats and here were his wristbands, his baseball cards," said Orie, now a member of the Pirates' radio broadcast team. "That was all in my shoes, along with some Bazooka gum. It was funny. It was such a good laugh -- nobody wants to be at Triple-A for rehab or if you're sent down. At the right time, you get a little chuckle."
That was typical Sandberg humor, Orie said.
"I could play with eight Rynos on the field any day of the week," Orie said. "We had the same agent. We had some stuff in common, except for the Hall of Fame. I can't draw that comparison."
Orie said it was easy to play with Sandberg.
"Fundamentally, he was as sound as anybody," Orie said. "He had really great hands. His top hand was something that jumped out at me. It's all about the glove, but that top hand, you learn, is a second glove for you and he was really good at it. You see a lot of bad hops that look routine because of his hands."
Sandberg was generous as well.
"He gave me a few of his bats, they were Rawlings, and let's just say they were Hall of Fame-type bats and real good wood," Orie said. "As for mine, if I had a dozen bats, nine were pretty good. And that's in the big leagues. You go to the Minors and zero were good. I think I ended up hitting a majority of my home runs with his bats. You'd think I would've been smart enough to switch, but I didn't. I think it was because the barrel was a little skinnier than my model."
Report: Ricketts considering selling minority shares
PITTSBURGH -- The Ricketts family is reportedly considering selling minority shares in the Cubs to help finance the $500 million renovation plan for Wrigley Field and the surrounding area.
Comcast SportsNet Chicago first reported the story on Thursday. The shares would be non-controlling, and shareholders would join the Tribune Co. as investors in the team. The Tribune Co. kept a 5 percent stake in the Cubs after it sold the franchise to the Ricketts in 2009.
"The Ricketts family is looking at a number of financial options to be prepared to finance expanding and preserving Wrigley Field if there is a settlement to the issues in the talks with the rooftops," Dennis Culloton, a spokesperson for the Ricketts family, told Crain's Chicago Business.
Castillo feels refreshed, but rests Thursday
PITTSBURGH -- Cubs backup catcher John Baker joked that Welington Castillo may have to play Thursday. That was OK with Castillo, even though he was behind the plate for 16 innings in a game that began Wednesday night and ended 5 hours 55 minutes later.
"After the game, I did eight minutes in the cold tub and I was fine," Castillo said. "That's why I'm very happy, because my body feels like that after 16 innings. It's not 16 easy innings -- it was tough. We had long innings, we had foul balls, I got hit. My body feels really, really good. I'm really happy about it."
Even though Castillo felt good, Baker got the start on Thursday. The longest game Castillo remembered playing in was 14 innings. He was even happier to pick up his first hit of the season. Extra inning games can be brutal on a player's batting average.
"Every time I had to go to the plate, I saw on the board [that I didn't have a hit] and I said, 'I need to get one,' and I was really happy to get mine," said Castillo, who singled in the 14th inning.
The total workload? The Cubs' nine pitchers Wednesday threw 256 pitches. The only ones who didn't pitch were Monday's starter Jeff Samardzija, Thursday starter Jason Hammel, and Friday starter Travis Wood. Wood did, however, pinch-hit.
• Starlin Castro batted third in the Cubs' first two games, but he was bumped to No. 2 on Thursday in hopes of easing some "anxiousness" that Renteria said he noticed.
"Putting him in the two-hole may ease it a little bit," Renteria said. "We'll continue to do whatever we can to put him in the best position possible. We need him. We need him to be able to show his offense. Put him in the two-hole now plays a little better, that's what we'll do."
Castro was 0-for-9 in two games heading into Thursday's matinee against the Pirates.
• In the 13th inning Wednesday, the game was tied and the Pirates had loaded the bases. What to do? Renteria had a meeting on the mound, and called left fielder Junior Lake in.
"I brought him in, and when we were on the hill, I said, 'Where do you feel the most comfortable?'" said Renteria, who wanted to go with a five-man infield. "I knew he had played third base. He looked over [at third]. I wanted to validate it. That was an easy decision, [him having played] third base in the past."
The move worked, as Clint Barmes hit the ball to Lake, who started a 7-2-3 double play.
The Cubs escaped any damage then, but lost, 4-3, in 16 innings.
• Emilio Bonifacio is the first player in the last 100 years to start his Cubs career with at least four hits in each of his first two games.
"I feel pretty good at the plate," Bonifacio said. "I've been having good results."
At one point Wednesday, Bonifacio had five hits, and the Pirates had five hits.
"I just try to get a base hit every at-bat," he said. "You have to stay positive. You want to get the win after you play that long."
• The Cubs' 16-inning marathon game against the Pirates was the 100th game of at least 15 innings in franchise history, and the longest since an 18-inning contest on Aug. 15, 2006, in Houston.
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.