MESA, Ariz. -- Carlos Villanueva said he might have gotten just as much out of a 90-pitch bullpen session, but he was pleased with how things went in the final Cactus League appearance of his first spring with the Cubs.The right-handed starter allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits in five-plus innings of the Cubs' 6-4 loss to the Mariners, allowing a home run to Michael Morse but overall finishing his spring on a high note before entering the regular season. "The first couple of games I was sort of out of it, but after I threw against the White Sox my third start, everything clicked," Villanueva said. "Once everything clicks like that, it's just a matter of building up strength and pitch count." A 3.57 ERA in 22 2/3 innings of work is what the numbers say about how his spring went, but Villanueva wasn't concerned so much about results as he was about acclimating to his new team and making sure he's healthy and prepared for the season. "You want to do well, but sometimes it feels like it's more for the sake of others in the spring, like you're justifying a little bit being new to the team with the fans, the team and the press," Villanueva said. "For me, it's about feeling comfortable." On that front, it's mission accomplished after he reached the 90-pitch mark in his final outing. "I'm happy, I'm healthy, and that's all that really matters," Villanueva said.
Feldman staying at camp for extra mound work
MESA, Ariz. -- While his teammates were packing their gear and preparing to head to Houston for the final two exhibition games of the spring, starter Scott Feldman wasn't in such a hurry to get out of town, even if he wanted to be joining the rest of the traveling party.Feldman, the Cubs' No. 4 starter, is staying at camp in order to get another start under his belt, facing Minor Leaguers in a game Sunday morning. Sure, he'd prefer to leave Arizona behind, but Feldman would rather pitch in a game situation than bide his time before his first start of the regular season with bullpen sessions. "It's just something you've got to do to get the last time on the bump before the season starts," Feldman said on Thursday. "I could have thrown three bullpens or something, but I'd rather get on the mound and face some hitters one last time." In his last outing of the spring against Major Leaguers on Wednesday night, Feldman allowed seven runs on 12 hits, including four homers, in 4 1/3 innings of work. But the 30-year-old right-hander said the results didn't necessarily reflect how he feels about his pitches and where he stands as he enters his first season with the Cubs after being with the Rangers his entire career. "The numbers weren't good, but honestly most of the stuff that was happening yesterday was just hanging some offspeed pitches," Feldman said. "The good news is I feel like I was commanding four pitches. Some of this stuff is just Spring Training and guys are going to be swinging a little bit more. "This is the best I've physically felt in Spring Training in a long time. My stuff feels good, and now it's just a matter of executing, finishing guys off and not hanging pitches." He'll get one more chance to do that on Sunday before the bell rings and regular-season games begin next week. Feldman is slated to make his 2013 debut in Atlanta the first weekend of the regular season.
Clevenger gives Cubs an option at third base
MESA, Ariz. -- Steve Clevenger isn't expected to see a lot of time at third base this season for the Cubs, but knowing that he can play there gives the team another avenue to get him some playing time.Clevenger made 51 appearances as a catcher for the Cubs last season and has seen some time at first base, but getting him time at the hot corner on Wednesday night was something the Cubs wanted to see before Spring Training concluded. "It went good. I feel comfortable over there," Clevenger said. "I was drafted as a shortstop, so I played my first year at short and second. I just need the repetition in the games, I think, but I don't feel weird over there. I'm not nervous at all." Manager Dale Sveum gave Clevenger, who has been one of the better hitters in camp with an average around .400 and five doubles, a solid review for his play at third against the Royals. He only had two balls hit to him, fielding a scorcher from Salvador Perez and starting a 5-4-3 double play in his other chance. "It's one of those things where he hasn't played there in so long, I'm sure he hasn't had a ball hit to him as hard as Perez hit to him in quite a while," Sveum said. "Hey, he did it. We're not asking him to set the world on fire or play there every day or anything like that. But certain situations might come up to get his at-bat in the lineup or double-switch and get him two at-bats if we're down by four in the sixth inning, stuff like that." Clevenger entered Thursday's game against the Mariners at first base, replacing starter Anthony Rizzo in the third inning.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.