7/31/2014 8:11 P.M. ET
Renteria: Rondon has 'consistent closer' potential
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Hector Rondon has not had many save opportunities, but the Cubs right-hander does seem comfortable in his role as the closer and is progressing with an improved slider.
"Hector has the potential to be a closer, and a consistent closer," manager Rick Renteria said before the Cubs' 3-1 win on Thursday. "The last couple of days, all of us have noticed him using the slider a little more effectively and it's got more depth. He's been working on it.
"His slider earlier in the season was a little flatter and as hard as his fastball, and it was hard to distinguish," Renteria said.
Now, because the slider is better, Rondon's fastball is more effective, Renteria said.
Rondon was pressed into the role when Jose Veras struggled early this season. In his last 10 games, Rondon had given up two earned runs over nine innings for a 2.00 ERA. That's a big improvement over a nine-game stretch in June when he served up nine runs over 8 2/3 innings for a 9.35 ERA.
"As long as he maintains health and strength, he has the possibility of being a consistent closer," Renteria said.
With his save on Thursday -- his 14th -- Rondon has had 17 save opportunities this season, which is tied for 14th in the National League, far behind the leaders, Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel and St. Louis' Trevor Rosenthal, both with 36.
Caratini provides catching depth Cubs were seeking
CHICAGO -- General manager Jed Hoyer said the Cubs are trying to fill some gaps on the organization's depth chart, which is why they selected catcher Kyle Schwarber in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft in June. On Thursday, they acquired another talented catching prospect, Victor Caratini, in a three-player deal with the Braves.
The Cubs sent infielder Emilio Bonifacio and pitcher James Russell to Atlanta for Caratini, 20, who was the Braves' second-round pick in 2013.
"We've said all along, catching is a weakness in our system, and we don't have enough of it," Hoyer said. "To get a guy who is a switch-hitting catcher and controls the strike zone well and has performed well -- we liked him in the Draft, our pro scouts like him."
Caratini was batting .279 at Class A Rome with 18 doubles, four triples, five home runs and 42 RBIs in 87 games. He will be assigned to the Cubs' Class A Kane County team.
What does this mean for Schwarber? He'll continue to catch and play outfield as well. After signing, he has moved quickly through the Cubs' system and is playing for Class A Advanced Daytona, where he is batting .269 in 15 games.
"He's catching less now that he's in Daytona, but that's more to rest him a little bit," Hoyer said of Schwarber, who has played some outfield. "It's been a long season. So far, all his catching work with [Minor League coordinator] Tim Cossins has been excellent."
Hoyer: Trade won't impact Cubs' plan with Baez
CHICAGO -- With Emilio Bonifacio's name mentioned in trade rumors, there was speculation early Thursday at Wrigley Field that Javier Baez was headed to Chicago before the Trade Deadline had expired.
But Baez, one of the Cubs' top prospects, will remain at Triple-A Iowa, general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday. Bonifacio was dealt along with James Russell to the Braves, and the Cubs had not made corresponding roster moves prior to leaving for a six-game road trip, which starts Friday in Los Angeles.
"You don't speed up the process because actions like this occur," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said when asked about Baez. "You allow the process to continue to play itself out. You continue to allow [Baez] to do what he's doing and where he's at.
"As far as how we proceed and who ends up coming in, we'll have those discussions," Renteria said. "In terms of trying to speed somebody up because a move has been made, it could be irresponsible if the person isn't ready."
Baez has been playing shortstop and second base at Iowa, and was batting .255 in 100 games with 24 doubles, two triples, 20 home runs, and 76 RBIs.
"All the stuff you hear about the young guys in the Minor Leagues, you hear it for a reason," Russell said of the Cubs' prospects. "They're going to be good. There's a reason everybody gets that much coverage. It'll be fun to see them come up here and start contributing."
Kyle Hendricks and Arismendy Alcantara have been promoted, with the latter making Darwin Barney expendable. Barney was designated for assignment, then dealt to the Dodgers.
"We're definitely moving in a good direction," Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta said.
Newly acquired Doubront to DL with calf strain
CHICAGO -- Felix Doubront, the left-handed pitcher who the Cubs acquired from the Red Sox, will not join the team, but will instead go on the disabled list with a strained left calf, general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday.
The Cubs acquired Doubront, 26, for a player to be named. The left-hander has appeared in 17 games for the Red Sox this season (10 starts) and totaled 59 1/3 innings. He was 2-4 with a 6.07 ERA, and will be reunited in Chicago with Theo Epstein, who was Boston's general manager when Doubront was signed in 2005, and is now the Cubs' president of baseball operations.
"Sometimes guys need a change of scenery," Hoyer said. "He's been pitching in the American League East. He's had moments when he's pitched real well. Obviously, he's been struggling, that's no secret to us.
"Sometimes you get a guy, a change of scenery, different coaches, different ballpark, different league, you hope that clicks together," Hoyer said. "He's got good stuff and has potential, and hopefully we can bring out the best in him."
There's no timetable for when Doubront will join the Cubs.
"Once he gets healthy and is able to rehab and we can stretch him back out, we'll see how the rest of the year works," Hoyer said.
For his part, Doubront said goodbye to the Red Sox on Twitter: "Thankful for my times with @RedSox org. the opportunity given to me, the World Series. Now a new journey for me & my family. Hola @Cubs!"
He is the second starting pitcher the Cubs have acquired this season. On July 4, they added right-hander Dan Straily to the mix in the deal with the Athletics. Straily was pitching at Triple-A Iowa.
Ramirez expects to be ready after DL stint
CHICAGO -- Cubs reliever Neil Ramirez expects to be ready to return once his 15-day stint on the disabled list is over.
The Cubs originally optioned Ramirez to Triple-A Iowa with the intention of giving him some rest, then announced he was going on the disabled list with right triceps soreness.
"It's something that started creeping in the last couple outings," Ramirez said Thursday.
The rookie right-hander is on a program with athletic trainer PJ Mainville and strength coach Tim Buss that has helped.
"I've been feeling better this year than I have in the past couple years, so everything I've been doing is starting to help out," Ramirez said. "I want to finish the year strong and build up strength."
Ramirez has given up three earned runs over 28 innings in 33 games with the Cubs, striking out 36. Was he surprised when the Cubs first optioned him to Iowa?
"I appreciate the organization for trying to take care of me," Ramirez said. "I'm the kind of guy who wants to be out there every day and don't want to be babied. That's why I think the stuff I'm doing with PJ and [Buss] is getting me to where I need to be. I'm getting the issue corrected, so I can get back out there strong."
Ramirez was expected to continue his rehab in Mesa, Ariz., at the Cubs' facility rather than travel on the upcoming six-game road trip to Los Angeles and Denver.
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.