7/20/2014 8:28 P.M. ET
Ruggiano riding high as playing time grows
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- It's pretty simple, really. More regular at-bats and more playing time usually ends in better results. Justin Ruggiano is proof of that.
Entering Sunday's series finale against the D-backs, the Cubs outfielder was batting .371 with seven doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs in his last 19 games since June 25. He has 57 at-bats in July; he had 59 total in June.
"In Spring Training, I had only 35, 40 at-bats, and for me to say I feel comfortable, it usually takes 60 to sometimes even 100 [at-bats]," Ruggiano said. "The more at-bats, the more comfortable I get, the more pitches I see, the more I can make adjustments. Sometimes you can come out and be hot right out of the gates, sometimes it takes awhile. For me, it's just getting into a rhythm."
He did miss time after suffering a strained left hamstring in late April. He hasn't been able to run as much as he'd like, preferring to take a cautionary approach.
Wada pegged to start Wednesday vs. Padres
PHOENIX -- Tsuyoshi Wada will start Wednesday, filling the second vacancy in the Cubs' rotation created by the trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.
On Friday, Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Kyle Hendricks will start Tuesday in the first game of a three-game series against the Padres at Wrigley Field. Wada, who made his Major League debut on July 8 against the Reds, will go in the second game.
"We'll see where it goes from there," Renteria said.
Wada has come a long way since Spring Training, when the lefty posted an 8.38 ERA in four games, giving up nine runs over 9 2/3 innings. On Friday, Wada, 33, struck out 10 for the third time this season at Triple-A Iowa, and leads the Pacific Coast League with 120 strikeouts. He is fourth in ERA (2.77) and fifth with a 1.16 WHIP.
The left-hander picked up his 10th win Friday and joined Hendricks with double-digit wins this year.
In his Major League debut at Great American Ball Park, Wada gave up one unearned run on five hits over five innings.
"The reports and how he's been pitching, he's been working more down in the zone and more efficient with his pitches," Renteria said of Wada, adding that he has been able to "elevate when he needs to as opposed to elevating in a non-elevating situation."
The Cubs signed Wada as a free agent in January, but he didn't impress this spring.
"It was a struggle," Renteria said of the lefty's Cactus League games. "A lot of his pitches were elevated, his command was off. He'd get into trouble and had trouble getting out of it. It was good in the fifth inning of that one game in Cincinnati when he got into a jam and ended up getting out of it."
The Cubs acquired right-hander Dan Straily, who owned a 4.93 ERA in the Majors this year, from the Athletics in the July 4 deal, but he is not ready to join the big league team, Renteria said.
"Right now, the plan is to get Straily back on track," Renteria said. "I can't tell you how soon or how far down the road. We're just trying to get him back on track."
Wood spiraling due to 'frustrating' lack of command
PHOENIX -- Travis Wood has not looked like the same pitcher he was last season, and the Cubs left-hander knows it. So does pitching coach Chris Bosio.
"I think it's a command thing for Travis," Bosio said Sunday. "He's getting in hitters' counts and doesn't have the command he had last year. We talk about it a lot as a staff. Try to find out what's working and what's not working. Unfortunately for Travis right now, he shows flashes and the next thing you know, he'll walk a guy.
"He's had more 3-0 counts this year at this point than he had all of last year," Bosio said. "Last year, he was unbelievable and very consistent, National League All-Star, but unfortunately for baseball players, these are cycles we go in. He's trying to find it, and he's searching."
In the first half last season, Wood walked 38 over 122 2/3 innings, and teams hit .202 against him. In the first half this year, he walked 48 over 110 2/3 innings, and teams batted .270 against him.
"It can become very frustrating, emotionally frustrating," Bosio said of Wood, who walked four in Saturday's loss to the Diamondbacks. "I think that's the position he's at right now. He's trying to do everything. Sometimes you have to simplify it and just say, 'You know what, I'm going to get back to bread and butter and try to pound the zone. If they're going to swing at it, let them swing it.'
"To see him go out and walk these guys, it's crushing, and not only for us, but for him as well," Bosio said. "You can see it in his body language."
Wood doesn't overpower hitters, and needs to have command to be successful. And yes, Bosio has had this discussion with the lefty, who may be trying to do too much following the July 4 trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.
"Losing our two guys -- and it's going to be a conversation piece for God knows how long -- but Jeff and Jason brought a lot for the rest of the guys," Bosio said. "They set things up nicely for the rest of our rotation as far as looks, different angles. They were leaders in here, and I think at times, Woody has tried to do too much."
In Spring Training, Wood and Samardzija were inseperable.
"He lost a good friend, a good teammate, and a good competitor," Bosio said of Wood. "Nobody in this league is going to feel sorry for us and the last thing you do is feel sorry for yourself. He has to get back to good ol' country hardball from the sticks in Arkansas. That's what he's done, that's how he got here. I believe he'll get through it. He's got to believe in himself and get back to challenging guys."
Trade impact still reverberating in Cubs clubhouse
PHOENIX -- The Cubs not only lost two starting pitchers when Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel were traded, but two players who made an impact in the clubhouse. It's taken some time to adjust.
"You miss their veteran presence more than anything," Cubs outfielder Ryan Sweeney said Sunday of the pair, who were dealt July 4 to the Athletics. "Guys want to win, but when two of your best pitchers get traded, it's a blow to the team a little bit. We all understand it's a process and they got a lot of young guys coming up. Bottom line is the guys who are here, we have to focus on still trying to win games."
However, entering Sunday's series finale in Arizona, the Cubs were 2-10 since the six-player trade with the Athletics, which netted the Cubs top prospect Addison Russell among others.
This is the third straight year the Cubs have dealt two starting pitchers mid-season. In 2012, Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm were dealt, and last year, it was Scott Feldman and Matt Garza.
"Fans want to see results now, and it's tough," Sweeney said. "Us as players have to keep going out there and grinding."
Cubs manager Rick Renteria is trying to keep an even-keeled approach.
"You've got to stay positive," Renteria said. "You've got to make sure that these guys know we're still supporting them. They know and want to go out there and give you quality outings. We expect it of them, they expect it of themselves. It hasn't worked as well as we would've liked, but we still go out every single day and expect them to give us a nice outing."
• After Sunday's game, the Cubs optioned left-hander Zac Rosscup to Triple-A Iowa. The move will make room for Tuesday's starter, Kyle Hendricks, who will be promoted from the Minors.
• Addison Russell, acquired from the Athletics on July 4, went 2-for-4, hitting two home runs, including a grand slam, and finished with six RBIs in Double-A Tennessee's 10-3 win over Huntsville. The shortstop hit a two-run homer in the first, and his slam in the fifth. Both were off Huntsville's Brent Suter.
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.