CHICAGO -- Cubs closer Jose Veras appreciated Rick Renteria sticking up for him on Tuesday night. The Cubs' manager was ejected in the ninth inning for arguing balls and strikes with home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson.
"You don't want him to get thrown out, but he argued because they called bad pitches to [Welington] Castillo, too," said Veras, who was on the mound in the ninth.
Castillo was called out on a questionable strike three to end the Chicago eighth.
"Every manager does what he feels he needs to do at a particular time," Renteria said Wednesday. "It's a feel thing. You don't want to go out there and try to embarrass an umpire. They have a tough job. Sometimes when you're watching a ballgame, you let loose, too, and you get ejected."
Renteria was the first Major League manager to get ejected this season, which was not exactly something the rookie skipper wanted on his resume. But he had managed in the Minor Leagues for affiliates of the Marlins and the Padres. Was he ever tossed then?
"Oh, yeah," Renteria said.
What sets him off?
"Any number of things," Renteria said. "You have a lot of guys working extremely hard to do their job, and you have a lot vested in the outcome, and the umpires have a lot vested in what they do on a daily basis. We get emotional. We're looking at the wins and losses. If I think things are kind of going awry, you try to address them, and last night, it just happened."
Renteria on Tuesday also argued a ball called on a 1-2 pitch to Jordy Mercer in the Pirates' ninth.
"You just want to win the ballgame -- I don't want him to get thrown out," Veras said. "I just want to finish my outing, have a good outing."
Veras did just that, striking out one in one inning. He did not give up a hit or walk a batter.
"It's going to be better," Veras said. "That's why we're working. I'm not going to be perfect for a six-month season. It's better to be struggling early than late. I'm going to be OK. I'm fine."
Veteran Bonifacio providing stability at leadoff
CHICAGO -- Emilio Bonifacio has not only provided a much needed spark for the Cubs' offense, but he has made it very easy for manager Rick Renteria to fill out his lineup card.
Bonifacio has led off all seven Cubs games this season, so far providing stability at the spot that was more fluid last year. David DeJesus was the Cubs' main leadoff man in 2013 until he was traded. Others to bat No. 1 that season included Starlin Castro, Luis Valbuena, Dave Sappelt, Junior Lake, Darwin Barney and Julio Borbon.
"If you can have a leadoff guy who you can slot in, it's really big," Renteria said. "We've had a couple guys who have done it in the past -- Starlin has done it, and Junior has done it. 'Boni' might profile more as a typical leadoff guy."
Renteria said Lake, 24, who was promoted to the big leagues last year, is still learning, while Bonifacio, 28, has more experience at the top of the order.
"'Boni' has been around a little while, been through the ups and downs of different positions and hitting in the lineup in different positions," Renteria said. "He's got some experience that gives him some confidence and stability right now."
Bonifacio is on a record-setting pace. According to Elias, he is the first big league player in the modern era (since 1900) to record games with one hit, two hits, three hits, four hits and five hits within the team's first seven contests of a season.
Bonifacio's 17 hits through Tuesday are the most by any Cubs player over the team's first seven games of a season since 1914, according to STATS Inc.
"He had a great start, and we hope it continues," Renteria said. "His mentality is to try to get on base every single time. It's a unique skill to have, and he's using it to the best of his ability, and we're glad we have him out there as often as we can. He's a guy who will need some days off, too."
"We'll see how he feels," Renteria said. "We'll just ride it out."
Homers signal payoff to Starlin's early work
CHICAGO -- After posting his first career two-homer game on Tuesday while batting sixth, Starlin Castro was back in the No. 2 spot in the Cubs' lineup on Wednesday. The shortstop knows manager Rick Renteria is trying to get the most out of him.
Heading into Wednesday night's game, Castro was 9-for-20 in his past five games with a 1.250 OPS in that span. Renteria said Castro had been working hard with coach Gary Jones in the field and with coaches Bill Mueller and Mike Brumley on his approach at the plate.
"Starlin is who he is," Renteria said. "He got a couple pitches up in the zone that he was able to drive out. He's a guy who when he swings a bat, he puts the barrel on the ball and is a pretty dangerous guy."
But Castro isn't trying to reach the bleacher seats.
"I don't want to try to hit homers," he said. "I know homers will come."
Renteria appears excited with Castro's defensive play as well. The shortstop, who did not play much in Spring Training because of a tender hamstring, has been impressive.
"He's got a little jump in his step, and he looks like he feels comfortable," Renteria said.
• WGN-TV will present a two-hour special on the history of Wrigley Field and the Cubs, titled "Wrigley 100: A Century Celebration," on April 20 at 7 p.m. CT. An encore showing will air on April 26 at 4 p.m. CT on WGN-TV Chicago and nationally on WGN America at 4 p.m. CT/5 p.m. ET.
Narrated by WGN Radio's Steve Cochran and featuring custom drawings by cartoonist Drew Litton, the stories of magic moments and memories of a century of baseball at Clark and Addison will draw from interviews with more than 60 people, including Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santo, Andre Dawson, Greg Maddux and Ryne Sandberg. Others interviewed include Kerry Wood, Rick Monday, Rick Sutcliffe, and Derrek Lee. Visiting players like Hank Aaron, Vin Scully, Mike Schmidt, Albert Pujols and Paul Konerko also are interviewed.
Other segments include Mike Ditka and Gale Sayers on playing for the Chicago Bears at Wrigley, fun and crazy moments at the park described by Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse, and an in-depth look at some of Wrigley's greatest games.
• Anthony Rizzo will host the second "Cook Off for Cancer" on May 16 at Revel Downtown, 440 W. Randolph, Chicago. Fans can join Cubs players and coaches as they serve upscale ballpark food prepared by some of Chicago's top chefs. Fans will vote for their favorite chef or dish by tipping the Cubs server.
The chefs scheduled to participate are: Tony Priolo of Piccolo Sogno; Doug Tomek of Uncle Dougies; Guiseppe Tentori of GT Fish and Oyster; Mario Hernandez of Del Frisco's; Doug Psaltis of RPM Italian; David Burns of Levy Restaurants; Joseph Heppe of Untitled 111; Molly Johnson of Limelight Catering; Cosmo Goss of Publican; Joseph Farina of Joe's Fish; and Lee Ann Whippen of Chicago q.
Tickets are $200 person, or $1,200 for a table. To purchase a ticket or make a donation, visit Cubs.com/cook.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.