CINCINNATI -- Until Jeff Samardzija gets his first win of the season, most of the talk surrounding the tall right-hander is going to be about the fact that he hasn't won yet.
That's just how it is, and no one understands this more than Samardzija. It's not that it's impossible to do what he's doing -- stringing together quality start after quality start, without a single 'W' to show for it -- but the law of averages, baseball teaches us, dictates that eventually, he's going to get a win. It's just the way this game works.
But in order for a starting pitcher to add a win to his record, a lot of other things have to go right, too. His team has to score runs for him. His bullpen has to hold the lead. The defense needs to keep the mistakes to a minimum.
While the Cubs have shown positive signs throughout April, despite their poor record, the issue has largely been having all facets of the game working together on the same day, at the same time. That surely has contributed to the Cubs not winning a single series as the first month of the season winds down.
Looks like the to-do list in May is already filled out.
"We need to be able to put it together," Samardzija said. "We learned this first month that to win big league ballgames, you have to put all phases of the game together. Not just one can show up. You have to pitch, play defense and get a hit.
"These good teams that are playing, they do all three and they do it every day. We need to come with the same attitude and understand you have to win all three phases of the game every day to win a big league ballgame. That's what needs to happen."
Castillo ends April on high note at plate
CINCINNATI -- With one month in the books, it appears catcher Welington Castillo has taken the positives that came out of his first full season in 2013 and applied them to this year, too.
Including Wednesday's game against the Reds, the 27-year-old catcher hit safely in 15 of 20 games played. He put together a six-game hitting streak from April 18-24, during which he batted .333 (8-for-24) and recorded two multi-hit games. He went 0-for-3 the next day to fall one game shy of tying his career-long streak, but after that, he hit safely in his next two.
Although Castillo insists his formula involves little more than keeping things simple and not doing more than he is capable of, he mostly credits regular playing time for allowing him to stay in a groove.
Last year, he played in 113 games, starting 107, before a knee injury cut his season short by nine games. He appears to be on pace to match or exceed that playing time this year.
"The more that you're facing pitchers, the more you know what he's throwing and what the ball's doing," Castillo said. "I think it's more playing time than anything. I feel really good at the plate."
Over a recent 13-game stretch, Castillo drove in 10 runs. And he's showing he can deliver when the pressure's on -- nine of his 11 RBIs have come with two outs.
"He's had really good approaches," manager Rick Renteria said. "He's been able to drive the ball to pretty much all parts of the field. I think he's trying to get himself in better hitting counts. Fortunately he's had a pretty good month where he's been able to do some things. They paid some dividends, obviously."
Renteria not dejected about twice being ejected
CINCINNATI -- Cubs manager Rick Renteria now has two ejections on his managerial record, which doesn't seem like a lot, unless you consider that he's a rookie manager who has exactly one month of regular season baseball under his belt.
That means Renteria is on pace for 12 ejections this season, and if he stays on pace, he could break Bobby Cox's record in approximately 13.4 seasons -- or maybe a little less, if Renteria can squeeze out a couple heave-hos during the postseason.
This is all in good fun, of course. Renteria addressed his ejections with reporters prior to Wednesday's game and made it clear that he did not blame the umpires for either. Renteria was arguing balls and strikes in both instances, a no-no under baseball's rules. Renteria gets this.
"They do a great job," he said. "[Umpiring], it's not an easy job. When we get a little heated, I get it. When we cross a line and we get ejected, that's just part of the game. It's the way it goes. I don't look at it any farther than that."
As far as his Cox-like pace is concerned, Renteria doesn't want any part of that.
"I'm hoping not to break any records," he chuckled.
Double-A prospect Edwards placed on DL
CINCINNATI -- Right-handed pitcher C.J. Edwards was placed on Double-A Tennessee's disabled list Wednesday, retroactive to April 25. Edwards was 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in four starts this season.
Ranked No. 4 on MLB.com's list of top 20 Cubs prospects, Edwards underwent an MRI on Friday in Chicago which revealed some fatigue and inflammation in his right shoulder. There was no structural damage. The plan was for him to rest, then resume his throwing program.