Rusin continues the audition for 2014
The smell of cigar smoke and champagne still linger in the tiny visitors clubhouse at Wrigley Field after two days of celebration. The Braves celebrated here Sunday after winning the NL East, and the Pirates partied last night after clinching a playoff berth. There’s still a lot to play for as far as Pittsburgh is concerned. The Pirates still want to win the NL Central, and at worst, they want home field for the wild-card play-in game.
The Cubs will send lefty Chris Rusin against Gerrit Cole. Rusin is 2-5 with a 3.52 ERA. Manager Dale Sveum says Rusin looks more self-assured than he did last year, when he came up for a short stint.
“I think from what we saw last year and this year, the biggest thing is the maturity of the young man and what he’s done at the big-league level,” Dale said. “He’s made pitches when he had to. I think that’s the biggest thing, not giving in and coming back and making those pitches. I think as a result of the little time he got last year, that’s a big deal for a lot of people to get a cup of coffee and we’ll see what we have after that.”
The Cubs are set with their top three next year, of Travis Wood, Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson, with Wood appearing to have the inside track on the No. 1 spot and the opening-day start next March 31 at Pittsburgh. Rusin and Jake Arrieta are making late-season auditions. The Cubs also figure to give Kyle Hendricks a long look during spring training after he won their minor-league pitcher of the year award.
Carlos Villanueva likely will be stretched out as a starter in spring training, and the Cubs probably will sign a pitcher along the lines of Scott Feldman.
“Obviously, we’re going to go in like we did last spring training and have about eight guys for the depth,” Sveum said.
Logan Watkins gets the start at second base tonight over Darwin Barney, who has a hitting line of .209/.268/.305 for an OPS of .573. His OPS-plus is 56. Sveum indicated it’s possible Watkins may get at least another start over the final four games of the season.
Cubs president Theo Epstein said infielder Wes Darvill will get a spot on the Arizona Fall League team in Mesa, as he replaces Javier Baez. The Cubs also will name a replacement for pitcher Arodys Vizcaino, who will go to the instructional league so the Cubs can better monitor his rehab from Tommy John surgery.
As for Darvill, he spent most of this season at Class A Daytona and 15 games with the Kane County Cougars. At Daytona, he had a line of .253/.324/.365 with 14 doubles, 3 homers and 34 RBI.
“Darvill is an interesting player,” Epstein said. “He does a lot of things well on the field. He has good instincts and gotten a little more physical each year.”
Epstein also said the Cubs will look at the following players as catchers in the instructional league: Ben Carhart, Gioskar Amaya, Jordan Hankins and Giuseppe Papaccio. Hankins was drafted this year as a catcher out of Austin Peay. The other experiments are not necessarily long-term conversions, Epstein said. The most interesting one is Amaya, an infielder signed in 2009. At second base for Kane County this year, Amaya went .252/.329/.369.