5/4/2014 8:10 P.M. ET
Renteria likes what he sees in Rizzo's approach
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo is in command of his hitting zone.
The Cubs' first baseman entered Sunday's game ranked among the National League leaders in on-base percentage and OPS, and manager Rick Renteria likes what he sees.
"His approaches, in terms of two-strike approaches and his approaches against lefties, have been strong," Renteria said Sunday. "Numbers-wise, he didn't have a bad season last year, but in terms of approaches, I think he continues to improve. I think he's gaining more and more confidence. He's hitting the ball to all fields, and he has the strength that if he gets a pitch to handle, he can drive it out of the ballpark."
Rizzo entered Sunday batting .304 with runners in scoring position this season; in 2013, he hit .191. He had drawn seven walks in his previous four games, including four last Wednesday against the Reds.
"A lot of that is a consequence of him showing he can handle the zone," Renteria said. "Pitchers are pitching him more carefully. It allows him to lay off particular pitches."
Which would mean there are fewer ways to get Rizzo out.
"He's been able to command certain areas of the zone that he might have had problems with in the past, and he's basically not panicking in those situations," Renteria said. "He's just growing up. He worked very hard in the winter and worked very hard in the spring. He knows what pitchers want to do with him, and all those things come with maturation and growing."
Despite hot hitting, Lake not in lineup for finale
CHICAGO -- Junior Lake hit a key two-run homer on Saturday in the Cubs' 3-0 win over the Cardinals. It was one of three hits for the outfielder, who was batting 6-for-13 against St. Louis entering play Sunday.
But Lake didn't get the start Sunday against Lance Lynn. The outfielder was 1-for-3 against Lynn, which isn't much of a sample size. It's part of manager Rick Renteria's plan to use Lake in situations where he'll hopefully have success.
"We continue to chip away and make sure we give them the best opportunity to feel more and more confident," Renteria said. "I think as the confidence grows with the successes they have, it starts to eliminate over time, sitting them against certain guys."
It may have surprised some Cubs fans that Lake was sitting, but Renteria makes sure to communicate with the players.
"We talk to all our guys," he said. "He's really confident right now, really positive, and knows how we're working, so it's not a surprise. It helps talking about it and making sure they are aware of how we're moving forward."
Cubs set to face intracity-rival White Sox
CHICAGO -- The Cubs return to Interleague action on Monday when they play host to their intracity rivals, the White Sox. The two teams will play a four-game, home-and-away series back to back, starting at Wrigley Field, with the Cubs trying to draw even with the South Siders in the all-time series (White Sox lead, 49-45).
The Cubs own a 121-136 all-time record in Interleague play, dating to 1997, which includes two losses to the Yankees on April 16 this year.
Cubs leaders vs. White Sox, 1997-2013
Games: Sammy Sosa, 42
Average: Mark Grace, .350
Home runs: Aramis Ramirez, 13
RBIs: Sosa, 39
Pitching (minimum 25 innings pitched)
ERA: Matt Garza, 2.33
Wins: Carlos Zambrano, 6
Saves: Carlos Marmol, 4
Strikeouts: Zambrano, 71
Cubs vs. White Sox notes
• Forty-one of the games have been decided by one or two runs (White Sox lead, 24-17)
• Fifteen of the games have been decided in the last at-bat (White Sox, 8-7)
• There have been 174 players who have appeared in at least one Major League game for both teams, including Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson and outfielder Ryan Sweeney.
• The two teams have made 22 trades, most recently Nov. 16, 2006, when the Cubs acquired Neal Cotts for David Aardsma and Carlos Vazquez
DeRosa: 'I only call myself a Cubbie'
CHICAGO -- Mark DeRosa was at Wrigley Field on Sunday, but not for the Cubs' game. DeRosa was a guest judge on the Travel Channel show "American Grilled." This episode will be aired in the summer, so he can't give away any details. What DeRosa did admit is that he doesn't grill, but he does eat.
"I'm willing to try anything," DeRosa said. "I wouldn't call myself a grillmaster, by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know what good food is. I let the other guys judge on who used the grill the proper way. I'm going based on what would I eat, what would I order in a restaurant, what would I bring into the clubhouse for the boys to try. So far, I've been pretty spot-on with the judges. At the end of the day, it's taste."
DeRosa, 39, who played for the Cubs in 2007 and '08, is busy now on MLB Network.
"Life is good," he said. "I get to be home with the kids, get to still stay in the game, great network, treating me great. Good people all around. There's a passion for the game in that building, and it keeps my spirit going. I'm learning a lot about every team. I always used to just concentrate on what we had to concentrate on. I'm finding there are a lot of really good ballplayers in the game, and I am having fun diving into it."
He has been critical and heard from some of his former teammates when he is. He's just being honest.
"I can always put a positive spin on it, but my teammates always knew I knew where I fell, as far as a ballplayer," he said. "I was never a 3-4 hitter in any order. I'll never know the stress levels those guys deal with on an everyday basis. I was always a truthful teammate and always expected things done a certain way and done with your teammates in mind. I would expect nothing less of my teammates to come up to me. I'll never forget how hard it was to get in that box."
What about his days with the Cubs?
"The best in my career, by far," he said. "I played on eight teams, but I only call myself a Cubbie. That's what I believe. I want this team to do well. I always pull for them. It's hard for me to watch what's going on right now. I'm disappointed, especially when you have a microphone. I'd love to be all over them and loving them. They're going through a rebuilding process."
• Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, who was bothered this spring by tightness in his right shoulder, said he had no pain one day after his first start of the season. Arrieta went 5 1/3 innings against the Cardinals on Saturday.
"Today is better than expected," he said.
• Rookie Brian Schlitter picked up his first Major League win in relief of Arrieta. The right-hander was in the right place at the right time -- he entered in the sixth with a runner at first and no score, and retired the two batters he faced. He was the pitcher of record when the Cubs tallied in their half of the sixth.
The Cubs' clubhouse crew made sure Schlitter had a few baseballs from Saturday's game as souvenirs. He also received the traditional beer shower. How was it?
"Cold," he said.
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.