Carlos Villanueva didn’t exactly impress in his 17 2/3 innings in the Cactus League, but the Cubs’ other options didn’t fare any better. That’s why, as Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports, the Cubs have given the fifth spot in the rotation to Villanueva.
Villanueva posted a 5.60 ERA during the spring. Chris Rusin, one of his competitors, finished at 7.45 in 19 1/3 innings. He was absolutely shelled by the Diamondbacks in his most recent start on March 26, allowing nine runs on ten hits (including four home runs) in 2 2/3 innings. Jake Arrieta, the other candidate, still isn’t ready as he is making his way back from a sore right shoulder.
Yadier Molina has two World Series rings, multiple Gold Gloves, Platinum Gloves, All-Star appearances and a Silver Slugger award. He now has an all-time record too.
The record: the most games caught with one team. Last night he caught his 1756th career game with the Cardinals, with ties him with Gabby Hartnett of the Cubs, who last caught in 1941 and set the record in 1940, his last season with Chicago. Molina will break the record next time he dons the tools of ignorance, likely tonight against the Phillies.
Given how badly catchers get beaten up — and Molina has taken a beating at times in his career — and given how well mastery of the position leads to a catcher earning journeyman status, as it were, it’s quite a thing to catch that many games for one team.
Given that Molina is under contract with the Cardinals for two more seasons and has stated his desire to retire a Cardinal many times, he’s likely to put that record so far out of reach that it’ll likely take at least another 78 years to break it, if indeed it is ever broken.