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Wild mess: Jose Veras out as Cubs’ closer

Sunday

Cubs at cardinals

The facts: 1:15 p.m., Ch. 9, 720-AM.

The pitchers: Edwin Jackson (0-0, 6.30 ERA) vs. Michael Wacha (1-0, 0.71).

Updated: May 14, 2014 6:53AM



ST. LOUIS — That didn’t take long.

In about 12 hours, Cubs manager Rick Renteria went from sticking with his struggling closer Jose Veras to demoting him out of the role.

Renteria, who met with Veras on Saturday morning, won’t identify a replacement and calls it a temporary move.

“I told him I have all the confidence in the world in him, and I think he’ll be back,” said Renteria, who on Friday night responded to Veras’ worst inning as a Cub by saying the right-hander was still the closer.

“We’re going to try to find some spots that he can continue to work through whatever things we need to work through and get better. Right now what I think we’re going to do [in save situations] is see who emerges. We’re going to use some of our other guys.”

Veras, who was signed to a one-year, $4 million deal over the winter, said he appreciated how Renteria handled it.

“He’s got to do his job; I’ve got to respect that,” he said. “And I haven’t done my job. . . . He was a good professional [about it]. I know what I can do, and he knows what I can do.

“It’s just not my time now. That’s what I think.”

In 32/3 innings, Veras has allowed seven walks, has thrown a wild pitch (with a passed ball Friday that could’ve been ruled another one) and leads the National League with three hit batters.

He has blown both save chances, costing his heavily used bullpen mates four additional innings April 2 in Pittsburgh and two extra innings Friday.

“I do think that a lot of the bullpen has done really well, and I don’t want to lose sight of that,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “But I think we should have a couple more wins. . . . And it would have been really nice [Friday] night not to use [Justin] Grimm and not to use [Hector] Rondon.

‘‘We did get the win, but there is a cost associated with that win because we had to use some relievers more than we should have.”

For all the command problems he has had since joining the Cubs — even in the spring — Veras said he hasn’t lost confidence. And he said he’s not pressing.

“It’s only 10 days,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s going to be fine. It’s better now than later. It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish.”

Of course, this is the way the Cubs started last year with Carlos Marmol (eventually traded), then Kyuji Fujikawa (eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery). That’s why the bullpen became an offseason priority.

Notes

Because of the bullpen strain, the Cubs recalled Chris Rusin from Class AAA Iowa to back up Carlos Villanueva, and Rusin pitched the last five innings of the Cubs’ 10-4 loss Saturday, allowing one run, three hits and a walk against the Cardinals.

He was optioned back to Iowa after the game.

◆ Rusin, who pitched well in 13 starts for the Cubs last year, is expected to get that shot again when pitchers start to get traded this summer, if not sooner.

“I have confidence in myself now,” he said. “I’ve just got to keep doing it, and hopefully one day I’ll stay up here.”

Blake Parker (2.72 ERA last year with Cubs) is expected to join the pen Sunday after being recalled from Iowa.

◆ Park Ridge’s Brian Schlitter was optioned out to make room for Rusin on Saturday.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

Twitter: @GDubCub



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