CINCINNATI -- When a team has only had six save opportunities through most of the first month of the season, it's fair to assume closer options aren't first and foremost on the mind of a manager guiding a struggling team.
But Cubs skipper Rick Renteria, while not having to do too much strategizing regarding the ninth inning, has had reason to be optimistic about some of his late-game options in the 'pen.
He was asked specifically about Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon, who each have earned one of the two Cubs saves this season. Rondon has been especially impressive in the early stages of the season, having allowed two runs (one earned) over 12 1/3 innings. He's walked four, fanned 14 and has a 0.73 ERA. His lone save occurred on April 11 in St. Louis.
Strop earned his save during the opening series in Pittsburgh on April 3. So far this year he has a 3.48 ERA over 12 games, spanning 10 1/3 innings. He's had two scoreless outings since allowing four runs (one earned) to the Diamondbacks on April 23.
"We'll continue to watch how we use them," Renteria said. "They're both capable, obviously.
"The ninth inning, no matter what the score is, is not an easy inning to close out. [Rondon has] shown some calmness; so has [Strop] and some of the other guys in terms of their makeup. I'm sure that -- until they continue to get into those particular situations, over an extended period of time -- will actually determine how we view them or what we think they can or cannot do."
Renteria ejected in sixth inning against Reds
CINCINNATI -- Less than three minutes after the Cubs and Reds sat through a rain delay lasting over an hour, the third of the night, Cubs manager Rick Renteria was tossed from Chicago's 3-2 loss to Cincinnati on Tuesday by home-plate umpire Alan Porter.
Renteria was unhappy with the balls and strikes calls from the umpire with Zac Rosscup pitching to Joey Votto.
"He tossed me because you can't questions balls and strikes, obviously," Renteria said. "And that's what I was doing."
Play had just resumed in the sixth inning on a cold, rainy night at Great American Ball Park when Renteria was tossed. Votto ended up striking out just as Renteria headed to the clubhouse.
The Reds were ahead, 3-2, at the time of the ejection.
Arrieta will make '14 debut vs. Cardinals
CINCINNATI -- Monday's postponement forced the Cubs to reorganize their rotation, which mostly just involved figuring out where to insert Jake Arrieta among the starting five. On Tuesday, manager Rick Renteria made it official: the right-hander will make his season debut on Saturday at Wrigley Field, when the Cubs host the second game of a three-game set with the Cardinals.
Arrieta, who was supposed to start Wednesday in Cincinnati before rain washed out the opener with the Reds, will fall in line behind Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood, who will start Friday. Jason Hammel will follow Arrieta to round out the rotation.
Arrieta has been eager to return to a Major League mound after missing most of the first month of the season rehabbing from a sore right shoulder. He was looking forward to Wednesday's scheduled outing against the Reds, but has no issue waiting it out a few more days before he gets his season started in earnest.
"I can't worry about it too much," Arrieta said. "If it rains, it rains. We just get pushed back and get an extra day. It's not always a bad thing."
Monday's makeup game could come in August
CINCINNATI -- The silver lining to having a rainout on Monday, of course, is that the Cubs and Reds are in the same division, and therefore will have at least a decent opportunity to make the game up without throwing a major wrench in either team's schedule.
The most reasonable makeup date appears to be Aug. 25, a mutual off-day for both teams. The Reds and Cubs are slated to start a three-game set on Aug. 26. The Cubs will be finishing a homestand with Baltimore on Aug. 24, whereas the Reds will be wrapping up a home series with the Braves.
Ideally, the makeup game would be played as soon as possible, which usually translates to the next time the two teams meet in the city where the rainout occurred. But in this situation, that would be July 7-10, and neither team has off-days surrounding that series to play the extra game. A doubleheader can be scheduled, but normally, teams opt to play on a mutual off-day rather than double-up games.
Another sticking point could be the rule that states no team can play more than 20 games in a row without a day off. However, when a makeup day is needed, the players simply have to OK adding the extra game in, which historically has not been an issue.