Villanueva still in Cubs' rotation ... for now
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Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Villanueva reacts after giving up a run in the first inning against the Rockies on Tuesday night.
The storyline of the day often changes from pregame to postgame.
Take Tuesday, for instance.
Before the Cubs' 9-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies, Cubs manager Dale Sveum mentioned the Cubs might go with a six-man pitching rotation when Matt Garza comes off the disabled list later this month.
That all looked to be a moot point a few hours later, after Carlos Villanueva got rocked for 12 hits and 7 runs in 5 innings.
Sveum, though, stuck to his story after the game, saying no decision has been made on sending Villanueva to the pen when Garza gets back.
"No," said the manager, whose team fell to 16-23. "Like I said, it wasn't a tryout today (for) anybody right now. We'll deal with that when he (Garza) gets here, and the matchups and all that when Garza's ready.
"There's no reason worrying about anything right now because we don't even know when Garza will be back."
All signs point to Villanueva going back to his familiar role as a reliever or swingman. He acknowledged the elephant in the room after the game.
"I know we'll be a stronger team when he (Garza) comes back," said Villanueva, who fell to 1-3 and whose ERA rose from 3.02 to 3.93. "Obviously, I have my own opinions. A move will be made. A night like tonight, I didn't really help my cause. But I'll take the ball when they need me to go. I'd love to contribute and win as many ballgames as we can.
"In the end, it really doesn't matter much what I think. Whatever happens will happen, and they'll make their decisions. We're all professionals here, and we'll handle it like professionals."
Villanueva had been one of the Cubs' better starting pitchers over the first month-and-a-half of the season.
But even before Villanueva's rough night, Sveum seemed to be setting the stage for a move to the bullpen. Six-man rotations are unwieldy, even for the short term Sveum said he might go with it.
Over the past weekend in Washington, the manager said he probably wouldn't go with one and that starters Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood were safe.
Scott Feldman has pitched well, but a key factor in a possible move of Villanueva to the pen is his career experience. He has appeared in 309 games, including Tuesday, but only 64 of them have been starts.
"He's always been that guy that starts, swingman," Sveum said. "He's got that ability to pitch late in the game because of matchups, because of the pitch mix he has. He's done it more than anybody else has."
Against the Rockies, Villanueva got hit hard early and often. Colorado scored once in the first inning and three more times in the second, with 2 coming on a booming home run to center field by Eric Young Jr.
Of the 12 hits Villanueva gave up, 7 were for extra bases. "Chalk it up to a bad day at the office," he said.
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