Cubs’ Villanueva rocked by Rox — all the way to pen?Continue reading.
Competition brings out best in Cubs pitcher Carlos Villanueva
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Carlos Villanueva stated his case to be the Cubs’ fifth starter — at least for the first few weeks of the season, until Jake Arrieta is healthy.
Against the Rockies’ starters on Wednesday night, the Cubs’ right-hander struck out eight and walked one, allowing three runs on three hits in four innings.
“That’s a good sign, the fact that I’m getting a lot of swings and misses,” he said. “I feel great.”
His lone mistake was a missed backdoor slider to star Carlos Gonzalez, who launched it for a three-run homer over the right-field wall.
“That’s why he is who he is,” Villanueva said.
The Cubs lost, 9-6, when the Charlie Blackmon of the home Rockies launched a two-out, three-run homer off Paolo Espino with two outs in the ninth inning and the game tied. The Cubs had scored three in the top of the ninth to go ahead by one.
Villanueva and Chris Rusin appear to be the two finalists for the team’s fifth starter job, which could last only a few weeks anyway. In that case, Villanueva — who has long relief
experience — could slide into the bullpen
“We don’t know how much time (Arrieta) is going to miss,” Villanueva said. “I’ve seen him throw in his bullpens. He looks great right now.
“So hopefully he’ll only miss a week or two, or a start or two.
“After that, obviously it’s his spot. He’s the guy.
“So whoever’s there is probably going to have to move.
“If it’s me going there, I have no problem.
“I’ve shown that before, going back and forth. But you’ve never know what’s going to happen.”
Villanueva said he and Rusin are handling the competition as friends.
“We’re there, and we’re battling,” he said. “We’re all in this together. In the end, we still root for each other. Whoever they decide, that part is out of our control.”
And that day is coming soon.
“We’re close,” he said. “It’s getting time to decision time.”