CINCINNATI -- At 38-52, 13 games out of first place in the National League Central and with two top pitchers already traded away weeks ahead of the nonwaiver trade deadline, the Cubs are looking to the future again.
Despite a sixth straight loss Wednesday night in a 4-1 final to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park, a couple pieces of the future were on display and happy about it.
Rookie right-hander Dallas Beeler (0-2) held the Reds to two hits and a run through four innings in his second major league start before taking his second loss.
Arismendy Alcantara, a 22-year-old second baseman/outfielder was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his first major league game, but he made several plays in the field, including a relay throw to nab a runner at third base. He said he was never nervous.
Right-handed starter Kyle Hendricks will make his major league debut Thursday afternoon.
"It’s a whole bunch of fun," Beeler said. "It was nice having Kyle come up here. I didn’t know Arismendy was even coming up until I saw him today. It’s a lot of fun and it’s going to be the same for Kyle tomorrow. He’s going to have a great time. The results weren’t what I wanted tonight, but I still had a great time pitching. It’s a lot of fun to watch, too."
A three-run fifth inning ended Beeler’s second start. He allowed four earned runs, six hits, walked four in five innings and did not record a strikeout.
"I just got some ground balls that got through the holes," Beeler said. "I felt like I had good control tonight. I got behind in some counts, and you can’t get behind on some of these guys. Some things didn’t go my way, and I have to make better pitches in some situations, too.
"I can’t get behind the first two pitches, especially the second and third time through [the batting order] because then I’m throwing all fastballs. So just cut down the walks and everything."
Still, the Cubs were in the game.
"I don’t know if he felt his command was where he wanted it to be," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "He settled down, I thought, a little bit. He started moving the ball in the third or fourth inning, I think. He kept us in the ballgame, quite frankly."
Alcantara popped up in his first major league at-bat from the No. 2 spot in the order and was thrown out on a hard grounder to third base in the third before striking out in his final two at-bats.
"At the plate, I thought he had a couple K’s, but I thought he was staying in there very poised and very confident," Renteria said. "He saw some good breaking balls off of [Reds starter Alfredo] Simon. He hit the ball well to the third baseman with two strikes in his second at-bat."
The breaking balls were a little tougher than he had seen in Iowa.
"I have to make adjustments," Alcantara said.
Alcantara had his first chance in the field in the second inning when he had to range to his right over second base to throw out Devin Mesoraco on a grounder. Two batters later, he threw out Ramon Santiago trying to stretch an RB double into a triple on a relay from Ryan Sweeney in right and on to Luis Valbuena at third.
"He moved around pretty well," Renteria said. "He made a play up the middle that showed range to his right to the shortstop side, I thought it was. He looked good. I thought he almost had that ball -- the bloop over his shoulder. A relay throw also to third."
The early chances helped ease Alcantara in.
"Just get relaxed and try to play the game the right way," Alcantara said. "So far, I feel comfortable in the field and at home plate, too."
Renteria said Alcantara would start Thursday but did not say what position he would play in the field or hit in the order.