Jose Veras named Cubs closer by Renteria
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter February 13, 2014 4:50PM
ALCS - Boston Red Sox v Detroit Tigers - Game Five
Updated: February 13, 2014 7:30PM
MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs haven’t won more than 75 games in five years. But on the day pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, first-year manager Rick Renteria handed Jose Veras the closer job.
How the rest of the bullpen roles shake out, he didn’t sound as sure.
“Right now, Veras looks like he’s going to be our closer, absolutely,” said Renteria, whose Opening Day bullpen could be almost entirely new since last April.
As for where that leaves Pedro Strop – who was thought to be a closer candidate – or anyone else in the bullpen mix, “These guys are capable of falling into any role,” Renteria said.
“These are discussions that we still continue to have. As we start to get closer to breaking camp, I’m sure those questions will be answered.”
Whatever happens with a lineup and starting rotation that don’t look particularly impressive coming off a last-place finish in 2013, the bullpen is one area of realistic reason to project improvement.
“We just went over all the pen arms that we have in camp here, and there’s no comparison,” team president Theo Epstein said, “between the quality of power arms that are in camp now and candidates to make the pen — the depth that we’ll have at Iowa behind them – and where we were two years ago.”
Veras, 33, is coming off his first season as a closer, saving 19 games for Houston before being used primarily as an eighth-inning guy after a trade to AL Central-division champion Detroit.
The Cubs signed him as a free agent for one year, $4 million, plus an option for 2015.