4/20/2014 4:58 P.M. ET
Renteria hopes Veras can win back closer job
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- The Cubs have not had a save situation in six games since Jose Veras lost his job as the closer, and in a perfect world, manager Rick Renteria would like to see the right-hander back in that role.
First, Veras needs to get in a game and pitch.
Renteria told Veras on April 12 that he was no longer the closer after blowing a two-run lead against the Cardinals the day before. Veras is 0-2 in save situations this season.
The only pitchers to convert save situations so far are Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop, both 1-for-1. James Russell is 0-for-1. The Cubs have the fewest saves in the National League with two.
"We still have a lot of guys in our 'pen who can be managed through those particular innings," Renteria said Sunday. "I think we'll continue to keep our eyes open. We certainly want to make sure we give Jose a chance to get back into the role and try to find situations we can allow him to work.
"He needs to work," Renteria said of Veras, who was called on in relief Sunday in the seventh, his first appearance since April 11. "We're going to do our very best that he gets into a comfort level. We need all those guys. In baseball, you don't eliminate guys, you need them all."
Besides Strop and Rondon, Renteria said Justin Grimm is another option in save situations. The manager will go with matchups for now. He'd like Veras to win the job back.
"Veras was brought in to be our closer," Renteria said. "We want to make sure he's given an opportunity. He's working very hard on certain things but he still has to get out there on the hill in game situations to get comfortable."
Renteria and Veras talk about the situation.
"Sometimes, the light turns on and you feel good about yourself and you want to go out and do it," Renteria said. "It takes a special person to go out and close the games. Do I think all the guys are capable of doing it? Absolutely. We still have to find ways to incorporate all of them."
Rizzo in lineup, feels fine after back spasms
CHICAGO -- Mike Olt took grounders at first base early Sunday just in case Anthony Rizzo was still bothered by back spasms, which forced him out of Saturday's game.
"I told him not to," Rizzo said, joking. "That's my position."
Rizzo was in the Cubs' lineup Sunday for the series finale against the Reds. He was pulled from Saturday's game in the eighth inning because of the back problems, which he said started "barking" in the fifth or sixth innings.
"He felt he'd be fine [Sunday] and came in and said he felt good," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said.
Olt is the Cubs' backup at first.
• Top prospect Javier Baez was activated from Triple-A Iowa's disabled list Sunday and in the lineup as the designated hitter. Baez, who had not played since April 10, went 0-for-4 and struck out three times. He injured his left ankle taking ground balls on April 11. In eight games, Baez was 4-for-26 with two home runs and 10 strikeouts.
• Rizzo entered Sunday's game batting .464 at Wrigley Field, while teammate Starlin Castro was hitting .424 at home. They rank among the National League leaders in home batting average.
"Their two-strike approaches are pretty good," Renteria said of Rizzo and Castro. "Riz in particular with two strikes is choking up a little now and trying not to be so pull conscious and takes what they give him. It's more of a mindset. You have to make an adjustment and as you improve as big league players, you know there are things you have to work on.
"He's come to a conclusion that some of the things he's doing are helping him. With offense, there are peaks and valleys to them, but so far, he's had a consistent approach."
• The Cubs will celebrate Wrigley Field's 100th anniversary Wednesday. Sue Quigg, grand-niece of former Cubs owner Charles Weeghman, will throw the game's ceremonial first pitch, and use the 100-year-old ball her grandmother Dessa Weeghman threw at a Chi-Feds game a century ago. The first 30,000 fans will receive replica Chi-Feds jerseys, and the first 10,000 fans will get a birthday cupcake.
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.