Villanueva positive after another win wasted
April, 12, 2013
By Jesse Rogers | ESPNChicago.com
CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Villanueva doesn't much care that he is still winless despite a sparkling 0.64 ERA after throwing his second stellar game of the season on Friday.
He's just happy the Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 4-3 after blowing a 2-0 ninth-inning lead.
"Personal stats will come if I keep doing my job, eventually, but the atmosphere in our clubhouse right now, I wouldn't change for the world," Villanueva said.
Villanueva was long gone when closer Kyuji Fujikawa blew the save for him just as Carlos Marmol did in Villanueva's first start against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.
"I told his interpreter, 'Tell him I believe in him, we believe in him and that's he's going to be fine," Villanueva said.
With a very small sample size one thing is becoming apparent in Villanueva: He won't get beat for lack of preparation. It's one reason manager Dale Sveum has said they signed him as a free agent in the offseason. He'll pitch to a game plan.
"The radar gun doesn't light up when I'm out there so, for me, that's what makes it fun," Villanueva said. "I study a lot between starts so for me to execute it makes it that much more fun."
Maybe the best thing about Villanueva is he understands his limitations, like a fastball that isn't going to make bats miss often.
"They probably have guys on that team saying ‘We should have killed that guy, we should have scored a million runs,' but the end result is not the way they want it," Villanueva said.
He worked the crazy conditions at Wrigley Field on Friday like he had pitched there 100 times.
"It was cold, first, then rainy then hot then cold again," he said.
With the wind blowing out, only two balls reached the warning track against Villanueva and both were caught. He induced 11 ground ball outs by keeping the ball down while giving up just three hits and a walk.
"He's thrown two really, really good ballgames against two good lineups," Sveum said.
And don't forget a main ingredient to this season. It's not about wins or losses, a lot of the time it's about finding out about players. Who is worthy of sticking around when -- and if – the Cubs start to turn the corner. There's nothing that says Villanueva can't pitch himself into being a core guy whether that's in the bullpen or as a starter. His value comes in his ability to do both.
Of course, it's way early to make an assessment.
"I'm not going to get overly excited about two games," he said. "Just getting deep into games is important. As the season goes on we'll probably have a lot more leash."
And in what is becoming a trademark for Villanueva, he's showing an understated and unselfish side to his personality.
"For me having a good start means giving the team a chance to win."