Cubs “leaning toward” using Carlos Villanueva as reliever

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When the Cubs signed Carlos Villanueva to a two-year, $10 million deal in December it was assumed that he’d be in the starting rotation, but now Carrie Muskat of MLB.com writes that they “seem to be leaning toward using Villanueva out of the bullpen.”

Villanueva said all the right things about filling whatever role is asked of him, but did tell Muskat: “I’m a starter and I’ve always seen myself as a starter.”

Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson, Jeff Samardzija, and Scott Feldman are locked in as starters, so Villanueva’s chances of joining them in the rotation depend mostly on Scott Baker’s recovery from elbow surgery and partly on how impressive Travis Wood looks in camp.

Video: Edwin Encarnación grounds into 5-4-3 triple play

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The Yankees threatened early against the Twins in the top of the first inning of Monday night’s game in Minnesota. DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge drew leadoff walks Martín Pérez, bringing up slugger Edwin Encarnación. Encarnación battled Pérez, ultimately rolling over on the ninth pitch, a change-up. Third baseman Luis Arraez gobbled it up and stepped on the third base bag, then fired to Jonathan Schoop at second base for the second out. Schoop got the ball over to Miguel Sanó at first base just in time to complete the 5-4-3 triple play.

It’s the second triple play turned this year, as the White Sox also accomplished a 5-4-3 double play on May 22 against the Astros. The Twins’ last triple play occurred on June 1, 2017 against the Angels, also a 5-4-3 triple-killing.

The Yankees were eventually able to generate some offense in the third inning on a Gio Urshela solo homer and an RBI single from Encarnación. It’s a 2-2 game as this gets published.