Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs' Wood, Villanueva plan to change Sveum's mind

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MESA, Ariz. - Travis Wood and Carlos Villanueva don't like what they're hearing, so they plan to do something about it.

The two guys left out of the Cubs' starting rotation plans outlined by manager Dale Sveum on Thursday both said on Friday that they plan to try to change his mind.

``There's always time to change somebody's mind,'' said Villanueva, who signed as a free agent with the Cubs this winter because of relationships with Sveum and pitching coach Chris Bosio - and for a chance to start. ``Nothing's set in stone. That's why we're competing.''

The Cubs have said since before spring training began that Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza and big-ticket free agent Edwin Jackson are the three locks for the opening rotation. Veteran starter Scott Baker, another free agent addition, will join the rotation when his more cautious post-Tommy John-surgery spring work is done - probably a week or two into the season.

That left Scott Feldman, Wood and Villanueva competing for two spots in the opening five - one spot once Baker returns.

But Sveum said on Thursday, ``Feldman's going to be one of the starters.''

Sveum later added there weren't any guarantees beyond the top three. But the intention was clear.

``I'm just going to go do what I've got to do, and then it's up to them,'' said Wood, who, like Villanueva, could be headed to the bullpen if he doesn't change management's minds. ``I'll just pitch as well as I can and see what happens.''

``Obviously, it would be nice to come in and be told, `You're our guy no matter what,' '' Villanueva said. ``But some guys are like Felix Hernandez; they get seven years, 180 mil. And some guys still have to fight for it.

``Being among the latter doesn't really bother me that much.''

Wood and Villanueva both say they worked hard this winter to be ready to start. Both consider themselves starters - Villanueva said he's prepared for 180-plus innings despite never exceeding 133 in his 11-year professional career.

``That's because I really haven't had the chance to go from Day 1 and start,'' said Villanueva, who went 5-7 with a 4.50 ERA in 16 starts for Toronto last year (2-0, 3.24 in 22 relief appearances). ``I've always seen myself as a starter. Even when I was in the bullpen.''

But neither Wood nor Villanueva says he's upset about Sveum's vision for the rotation.

``I know it's going to be a story. But there's always a story,'' Villanueva said. ``I won't complain either way. Whatever they want me to do I will do, and I will gladly do it, and do the best I can.''

He also knows: ``I'm a guy that's seen how quickly things can change, and every year it seems like it happens. I mean, last year in Toronto we lost three guys in a week, and guys were pressed into starting. ... I just want an opportunity to show what I can do.''

Wood said he didn't assume he had a spot in the rotation when he came to camp anyway.

``I want to start. That's what I've done my whole career,'' the left-hander said, ``so we'll hit that bridge when we come to it''

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on February 15, 2013 12:09 PM.

Cubs' Brett Jackson has `every intention of making this team' was the previous entry in this blog.

Valbuena taking nothing for granted in Cubs camp is the next entry in this blog.

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