Renteria altering lineup against lefties
CHICAGO -- On Saturday, the Cubs faced the Phillies' Cliff Lee, the third left-handed starting pitcher in the team's first five games. It's the first time they've seen that many southpaws to start a season since 1995.
Manager Rick Renteria has responded by altering his lineups, depending on the starter. Mike Olt and Junior Lake get starts against lefties; Luis Valbuena and Ryan Sweeney are in the lineup against right-handers.
"We have the flexibility of right-handed, left-handed matchups," Renteria said Saturday. "Someone asked about guys getting comfortable on a daily basis [if not playing every day], and I think we're trying to put everybody in the best possible position for success based on guys they've faced. You'll see us double up and play against righties [against right-handers] and lefties [against left-handers]. It depends on where we're at and what we see is the right fit."
Last season, the Cubs struggled against left-handed pitchers, batting .232, which ranked last in the National League.
One player who has started every day is first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who was 1-for-9 against lefties this year. Last season, he batted .189 against lefties, .252 against right-handers.
"The more he continues to face lefties, the more he's adjusting his approach," Renteria said of Rizzo. "I think over the long haul it'll start to improve, but you can't do it unless you're out there. A lot of our other guys also, there will be times when they're facing some lefties, and people will probably wonder why, but you have to give them the opportunity to see them at some point."