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Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Bad timing for Villanueva outing

By Jesse Rogers

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Villanueva sounds like a man who knows his fate. With teammate Matt Garza returning from an injury soon, Villanueva is a candidate for the bullpen.

With the decision looming, he’s trending the wrong way after losing for the third time in four starts on Tuesday. He surrendered seven runs and 12 hits in five innings in a 9-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

“I know we’ll be a stronger team when he [Garza] comes back,” Villanueva said after the game. “A night like tonight didn’t help my cause.”

He had very little command of any of his pitches, as there were no cheap hits. Villanueva shouldn’t feel too bad, though; he had a great month of April as a starter after originally being signed to pitch in long relief. Before the game, manager Dale Sveum said Tuesday wasn’t any “tryout,” and he reiterated it afterward as well, but Villanueva sees the writing on the wall.

“You would be lying if you said stuff doesn’t cross your mind when it comes up, but, like I said, we’re professionals,” he stated. “It’s hard to play that way [thinking of your job], hard to pitch, hard to play defense.”

On the bright side, his move to the pen -- if it happens -- will strengthen a weak unit. More importantly, Villanueva has to find his game again. He’s given up three or more runs in his past four starts after dominating opponents in his first four. Tuesday was his worst start of the season, ballooning his ERA to 3.93.

“Chalk it up to a bad day at the office,” Villanueva said. “When the good ones get hit, obviously the bad ones get hit even harder.”