The Cubs were out in full force well before Tuesday night's game against the Brewers for some early fielding work.
Manager Rick Renteria was asked if he was pleased with his team's overall fundamental play this season. Entering Tuesday, the Cubs were tied for fifth in the National League in fielding percentage, and their 67 errors ranked them sixth best in the NL.
"I think to this we point we haven't been bad," Renteria said. "I think there are some aspects we still want to work on, both on the offensive and defensive side. But all in all, we've kept our heads in the game a little bit."
He added that the idea of early work had been talked about, especially with the Cubs having young players Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara in new positions. Renteria credited third-base and infield coach Gary Jones for working with both players.
"Jonesie's been doing a nice job," the manager said. "He had Mendy and Javy out yesterday or the day before doing some early work. Always, when you're trying to put your eyes on guys, it's really important to make sure they get their work.
"These are young men. They've got a lot of energy, and we want to make sure they're doing the things they to do to keep moving forward."
A new invention:
Anthony Rizzo drew a first-inning walk Tuesday against Wily Peralta. That was newsworthy because Cubs batters had drawn just 2 walks while striking out 53 times over their previous four games.
However, Rick Renteria did praise Rizzo for working Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez to a 13-pitch strikeout in Monday's ninth inning. Rodriguez told reporters in the Milwaukee clubhouse that he had to invent a pitch against Rizzo.
"Pretty much, I threw every pitch I have," Rodriguez said. "I even invented a cutter, which I've never thrown in my life. I was just trying to get him to put the ball in play."
"That's neat that he admitted that," Renteria said. "It was a 13-pitch at-bat. We're having a lot of good at-bats.
"We talk about strikeouts. I know guys come in and maybe they don't get the hit. But when you push a guy who has faced one hitter in 13 pitches and you're hoping a pitcher will go 12-15 on average for an inning, that's pretty good."
Left-handed pitcher Felix Doubront made his first rehab start Tuesday for Class AAA Iowa, working 4 innings against Las Vegas and giving up 4 hits and 3 runs. He walked one and struck out seven, throwing 80 pitches, 52 strikes.
Doubront, obtained from the Red Sox last month, is on the disabled list with a left-calf strain.