Cubs’ Travis Wood, Carlos Villanueva make pitch for change
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org February 15, 2013 1:02PM
Chicago Cubs' Travis Wood during a spring training baseball workout Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Updated: March 17, 2013 6:42PM
MESA, Ariz. — Left-hander
Travis Wood and right-hander Carlos Villanueva don’t like what they’re hearing, so they plan to do something about it.
The two guys left out of the Cubs’ starting-rotation plans outlined Thursday by manager Dale Sveum said Friday they plan to try to change his mind.
‘‘There’s always time to change somebody’s mind,’’ said Villanueva, who chose the Cubs as a free agent this winter because of his relationships with Sveum and pitching coach Chris Bosio — and a chance to start. ‘‘Nothing’s set in stone.’’
Since last month, the Cubs have said right-handers Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza and Edwin Jackson are locks for the rotation. Right-hander Scott Baker will join the rotation when his post-Tommy John surgery work is done — probably a week or two into the regular season.
That left right-hander Scott Feldman, Wood and Villanueva competing for two spots in the opening five — one spot once Baker returns.
Then Sveum said Thursday, ‘‘Feldman’s going to be one of the starters.’’ He later said there weren’t any guarantees beyond the top three, but the intention was clear.
‘‘I’m just going to go do what I’ve got to do, and then it’s up to them,’’ Wood said. ‘‘I’ll just pitch as well as I can and see what happens.’’
‘‘Obviously, it would be nice to come in and be told, ‘You’re our guy, no matter what,’ ’’ Villanueva said. ‘‘But some guys are like [Seattle Mariners ace] Felix Hernandez — they get seven years, $180 million — and some guys still have to fight for it. Being among the latter doesn’t really bother me that much.’’
Wood and Villanueva consider themselves starters. Villanueva said he’s prepared to pitch 180-plus innings, despite never exceeding 133 in his 11-year pro career.
‘‘That’s because I really haven’t had the chance to go from Day 1 and start,’’ said Villanueva, who was 5-7 with a 4.50 ERA in 16 starts last season for the Toronto Blue Jays and 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA in relief. ‘‘I’ve always seen myself as a starter, even when I was in the bullpen.’’
‘‘I want to start; that’s what I’ve done my whole career,’’ Wood said. ‘‘So we’ll hit that bridge when we come to it.’’