By Tom Ramstetter
CINCINNATI — With many of the pieces of the Cubs of the future now at the major league level as the 2014 season enters its final weeks, Cubs manager Rick Renteria isn’t setting any goals beyond playing well and playing the right way.
The Cubs entered Wednesday night’s game against the Reds on a four-game winning streak, but stood at 59-72 overall, 13 1/2 games behind first-place Milwaukee in the National League Central. The skipper has no particular need to catch anybody or to exit last place.
Just play well.
“I think that playing good baseball over the four or five weeks will be good,” Renteria said. “I can’t tell you what the results will be, but hopefully if we’re playing good baseball, the numbers will reflect that. The process is still what we’re most concerned about. If we do enough good things, you have a really good chance of giving yourself the ability to have a lot of victories at the end of the day.”
The next couple weeks will feature games against contending clubs — St. Louis, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Toronto.
“We’re still playing against a lot of really good clubs who aren’t just going to lay over,” Renteria said. “There are a lot of clubs who are fighting for positions in postseason and for us, I think we’re just fighting for an identity.
“We want to show everybody that we’re coming out here to play the game of baseball a certain way and we’re trying to stand up for ourselves.”
Renteria wants to win every day, but that doesn’t mean it will happen.
“I want these guys to understand that the outcome is truly a result of the process of them playing the game a certain way, of doing things a certain way, of playing good baseball,” Renteria said. “You can have two clubs go out there and play two solid excellent ballgames, and one's got to win and one’s got to lose. At the end of the day, if we can come out and continue to play good baseball, we’re moving in the right direction.”
[MORE CUBS: Cubs want to see how big bet on Jorge Soler pays off]
First baseman Anthony Rizzo was out of the lineup Wednesday after exiting Tuesday’s game with lower back tightness.
The Cubs are hoping the absence is brief.
“I hope so,” Renteria said. “I think it’s day to day. We’ll check in throughout the day with him as he’s being treated and see how he’s doing after the evening tonight. I know we have an early game tomorrow, so hopefully we’ll have a better idea of how he’s feeling ... hopefully during the ballgame.”
[MORE CUBS: GIF: Jorge Soler crushes homer in first Cubs at-bat]
Outfielders Ryan Sweeney and Justin Ruggiano were both placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday. Sweeney’s move was due to a left hamstring strain, and Ruggiano was disabled retroactive to Saturday because of left ankle inflammation.
The Cubs recalled Logan Watkins and Jorge Soler, who homered in his first major league at-bat Wednesday, from Iowa.
The club has not determined whether either injury is season-ending.
“We have to wait to see how it unfolds here in the next couple days,” Renteria said. “A week, maybe. I don’t know. It was something we needed to do. We need some players. Fortunately for us, we have some guys we can kind of slot in there.”