Tagged: Jose Veras

6/3 Cubs like young arms; Veras DFA

The Cubs decided they liked their young relievers in the bullpen, and designated Jose Veras for assignment on Tuesday. The move was necessary to create a roster spot for reliever Hector Rondon, who returned from paternity leave after the birth of his son, Ian Jose, on Friday. Veras, projected at the start of the season as the Cubs’ closer, had an 8.10 ERA in 12 games. Rondon replaced the veteran as the Cubs’ closer before Veras went on the disabled list April 26 with a strained left oblique. The Cubs signed Veras on Dec. 27 to a one-year, $4 million deal with a club option for 2015.

“You’re disappointed when you sign a free agent and bring in a veteran and it didn’t work out,” GM Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. “I think he’ll land on his feet.”

The Cubs had hoped Veras, 33, would stabilize the bullpen but he struggled at the start of the season, giving up 10 earned runs over 5 2/3 innings in April for a 15.88 ERA. Last year, he walked eight over 19 2/3 innings for the Tigers; this year, he walked 11 over 13 1/3 innings.

Rondon was 6-for-7 in save situations with a 1.59 ERA in 22 games overall, and the Cubs have relied on rookies Brian Schlitter, Neil Ramirez and Justin Grimm.

“For us, when we sat down and made the decision, ultimately we have a lot of young guys playing well and competing well in important leverage situations,” Hoyer said. “We want to stick with those guys right now.”

The Cubs will continue to carry 13 pitchers. Most teams have 12, but manager Rick Renteria said he didn’t feel short-handed, and they want to be careful with pitch counts for the young relief corps.

— Carrie Muskat

6/3 Roster moves

The Cubs designated Jose Veras for assignment on Tuesday, making room for Hector Rondon to return from paternity leave. The Cubs also placed Welington Castillo on the 15-day DL with a sore left rib cage. Eli Whiteside was promoted from Triple-A Iowa.

We’ll have more later on Cubs.com.

5/14 Veras on Bryant: “He’s unbelievable”

Veteran reliever Jose Veras sounded like a Cubs fan when asked about top prospect Kris Bryant.

“He’s unbelievable,” Veras said Wednesday. “To see him play, to see [Jorge] Soler play, [Stephen] Bruno play. They’re unbelievable players. They know how to play the game.”

Veras watched the youngsters first-hand during a rehab assignment with Double-A Tennessee, which ended Tuesday night. He saw Bryant at his best. The third baseman, who is batting .324, was named the Southern League Hitter of the Week on Monday, and currently leads the league in home runs (11) and RBIs (33). He belted No. 11 on Tuesday.

“He hit a homer and center field was 400 feet away and the wall was 40 feet high, and he hit it over that thing like nothing,” Veras said. “It’s unbelievable the power that he has.”

The Cubs front office has told their prospects that they’ll be promoted if they dominate at their current level. Bryant is definitely dominating.

“He’s having a great year and we have a number of guys on that team playing well,” GM Jed Hoyer said of Bryant. “[Promoting him] is not something we’ve talked about. I think it’s important to know a ballpark you’re going to, who your teammates are. … It’s probably important to have a few ups and downs with the club before we have that discussion.”

Bryant is ranked No. 2 on MLB.com’s list of top 10 Cubs prospects. Javier Baez, listed at No. 1, isn’t having as much success at Triple-A Iowa, and was batting .147 in 27 games with three homers and 11 RBIs. The shortstop batted .264 in spring with five home runs.

“There probably is emotionally a little bit of a let down after you audition, if you will, in Spring Training, and you have the adrenaline, and then go down [to the Minors],” Hoyer said. “I think we’re past that point. He’s in a big slump and he’ll have to figure his way out of it. He’ll be stronger for having gone through this. … Now it’s a matter of Javy figuring out what he needs to do to get through this.”

The Cubs have been strugging offensively. Did Veras try to talk them into letting him bring Bryant up to the big leagues?

“I can’t do that,” Veras said, laughing. “The only thing I did was try to worry about was being healthy and throwing strikes. Everybody loved him, he’s an unbelievable teammate. He’s humble, he’s a leader on the team. He’s an unbelievable player.”

— Carrie Muskat

5/14 Jose Veras UPDATE

Jose Veras was activated from the disabled list and lefty Zac Rosscup placed on the 15-day DL with a shoulder problem. Veras was in St. Louis on Wednesday. He’s been on the DL since April 25 with a strained left oblique. He made four rehab outings with Double-A Tennessee, and gave up one hit, two walks and struck out three over 4 2/3 innings. He started on Tuesday and retired all three batters he faced.

5/6 Veras begins rehab

Cubs reliever Jose Veras has joined Double-A Tennessee to begin his rehab assignment. Veras, 33, was placed on the disabled list April 25 with a strained left oblique. He had a 15.88 ERA (10 ER in 5 2/3 IP) in six appearances.

The Smokies face off against Birmingham on Tuesday at 12:00 p.m. ET. Right-hander Matt Loosen (2-2, 4.32) is expected to take the hill for Tennessee, while Birmingham is expected to counter with righty Chris Beck (2-4, 5.06).

5/2 Veras to start rehab soon

Jose Veras, on the DL with a strained left oblique, was scheduled to join Double-A Tennessee and begin a rehab assignment soon. Whether he’ll return as the team’s closer is yet to be determined. Chicago pitchers have one save opportunity in the last 16 games dating to April 12, and the team’s six save opportunities are the fewest in the Majors.

Right now, manager Rick Renteria is relying on matchups, although Hector Rondon has emerged as a possible closer candidate. The other options include Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm.

“I think ideally we’d develop a closer from one of the guys we have on the roster,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said Friday. “I think we have some guys who have the stuff and makeup to do it. Hopefully, it’ll click with one of these guys. I do like the way our guys have thrown. I feel when we have a series, we match up well with other teams’ bullpens. I don’t think teams are excited to face us in the seventh, eighth, ninth innings.”

Despite the closer struggles, the Cubs relievers have combined to toss 14-scoreless innings in the last six games, including scoreless contests in all five games of the just-completed road trip. The Cubs’ bullpen has not had six-straight scoreless games since a nine-game stretch April 29-May 8, 2011.

— Carrie Muskat

4/26 Veras to DL

The Cubs placed right-hander Jose Veras on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Friday, because of a left oblique strain and recalled right-hander Brian Schlitter from Triple-A Iowa. Veras said he felt something while pitching Thursday, which was his last outing. That was only his second appearance since April 11 when he blew a two-run lead against the Cardinals and lost his job as the closer. Schlitter was closing games at Iowa, and manager Rick Renteria said he may use the rookie in that role with the big league team.

4/25 Veras sidelined

Cubs reliever Jose Veras has a sore left oblique and is day to day, manager Rick Renteria said Friday. Veras pitched on Thursday against the Diamondbacks, and gave up two runs in one inning. It was his sixth appearance this season. The right-hander lost his job as the closer after blowing a two-run lead on April 11 against the Cardinals, and Thursday was only his second appearance since then.

“Veras is a little sore with his left oblique and hopefully he’ll be OK,” Renteria said. “He’s been working really hard and developed a little soreness. He’s a very hard worker. We’ll monitor it and see how he’s doing.”

The Cubs have eight relievers in the bullpen, including Veras, after adding lefty Zac Rosscup and right-hander Neil Ramirez on Thursday.

— Carrie Muskat

4/24 Who’s closing? It’s organic

After Jose Veras blew a save situation on April 11, he was removed as the Cubs closer. The Cubs had their first save opportunity since then on Wednesday, and blew it. So, who does manager Rick Renteria turn to now?

“It depends on who’s available today,” Renteria said, adding he wanted to talk to pitching coach Chris Bosio first.

Pedro Strop appeared to be in line for the job, and he entered the game on Wednesday with a 5-2 lead in the ninth. But the inning unraveled quickly as Strop walked leadoff batter, Chris Owings, and Tony Campana reached on an error by shortstop Starlin Castro.

Strop faced four more batters, and ended up with the loss as Arizona rallied for a 7-5 win. The right-hander was pulled so lefty James Russell could face Miguel Montero, who delivered a RBI single.

“Once he got to 31 pitches, that’s a lot of pitches, so you have to be mindful of that situation,” Renteria said. “We had Russell available for Montero. You can never assume in that role. You’re still very mindful of protecting them as much as you can and not letting them get too extended in their pitch count.

“In that situation, if [Strop] has 25 pitches under his belt, he’ll face Montero,” Renteria said. “But he had 31. I can’t assume a two or three pitch at-bat. I’ve got to prepare for the worst, and I don’t wnat to put him in that situation.”

So, who’s the Cubs closer?

“Right now, it’s organic,” Renteria said.

The Cubs added two relievers on Thursday, recalling Neil Ramirez and Zac Rosscup from Triple-A Iowa. Neither was used in save situations on a regular basis at Iowa.

“I’m ready for anything,” Ramirez said. “Whatever they want me to do I’ll be ready to go.”

The Cubs began this season feeling their bullpen was one of their strengths. But with Veras not being used as the closer, the situation is evolving.

“I still feel very confident in the arms we have,” Renteria said. “I guess it’s finding that nice sync that gets us through the latter part of the ballgame — closing out a ballgame, the reality is you win and lose ballgames in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.”

— Carrie Muskat

4/13 Extra bases

* The addition of Blake Parker gives the Cubs another option for save situations, joining Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Justin Grimm. The Cubs are trying to fill in for Jose Veras, who will be used in a different role after his struggles in his first four games. Parker is the career saves leader at Iowa, and knows how hard it is to get the last three outs.

“It’s an unbelievably hard role, especially in the big leagues with the crowd involved and the umpires are a little bit tighter and the quality of the hitters is way better,” Parker said. “It’s the hardest job for a pitcher to get those last three outs. To just be able to come in and get outs is my thing, whether it’s the ninth or the sixth.”

The Cubs have seen two pitchers – Strop and Rondon – each record a save within the first 11 games of the season. Last April, the Cubs had three different pitchers record a save within the month of April for the first time since the save became an official MLB statistic in 1969.

“They give me various options,” Renteria said of Strop, Parker, Rondon and Grimm. “You still have to put them in situations where they feel comfortable.”

* The Cubs have two off days this week but will not tweak their rotation, which means Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Villanueva and Edwin Jackson will start next weekend against the Reds at Wrigley Field. Villanueva will stay in the rotation despite lasting three innings Saturday against the Cardinals.

* After an off day Monday, the Cubs play the Yankees in the first of eight Interleague series this season at Yankee Stadium. This will be the Cubs’ first-ever regular season games at the new Yankee Stadium, which will be the 122nd different ballpark in which the team will have played. After Tuesday, the Cubs will have played a regular-season game in every current Major League city and a game in every active ballpark.

“It was a little more traditional, and it was more of a pitcher’s ballpark,” Jose Veras said of the old Yankee Stadium. “The [new one] is a hitters ballpark now. It’s way different now.”

The Cubs did play the first two games in the history of new Yankee Stadium, however, when the teams met in exhibition action prior to 2009. The Yankees won both games.

* Top prospect Javier Baez was placed on the seven-day disabled list with Triple-A Iowa because of a sprained left ankle, injured while taking ground balls on Friday. Baez was 4-for-26 (.154) with two home runs in eight games this season.

* This weekend was manager Rick Renteria’s first exposure to the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.

“I noticed, looking outside my hotel room, that there were a lot of people waiting to get into [Busch] stadium and that was early in the morning,” Renteria said. “It’s neat. I think the fan base here and in Chicago are unique. I like my fan base.”

— Carrie Muskat