Rick Renteria's focus Thursday night will be less on returning to San Diego and more on how to help his current team build on a successful homestand and end its recent road struggles overall and against the Padres.
The longtime Padres coach visits Petco Park for the first time as manager of the Chicago Cubs, who will try to hand his former club a fourth straight defeat.Renteria began coaching in San Diego's minor-league system in 2003 and moved up to the big club in '08, remaining with the Padres until taking the Chicago job. Though Renteria has ties to the San Diego area and remains close with manager Bud Black, he downplayed his return to the place that helped him earn his first managerial job."For me, it's another road trip," he told the Cubs' official website. "I have some really good friends there who I'll be happy to see for a quick moment to say hello, and then it's on -- it's Cubs against the Padres."Renteria's concern is the present, in which the Cubs (16-28) are hoping to follow up on a 3-2 homestand against Milwaukee and the New York Yankees."All those things and those experiences that I had (in San Diego) led to the opportunities that I'm experiencing now," he said. "That's a different time."Renteria was part of San Diego teams that won seven of the past 10 against Chicago, including six of seven at Petco Park. The Cubs are 6-15 on the road this season, dropping five of six there.Ex-Padre Anthony Rizzo has batted .346 in his last six games against his former team, but is 0 for 9 with six walks and five strikeouts in his past three overall.Teammate Junior Lake had three hits during Chicago's 4-2, 13-inning loss to the Yankees on Wednesday. He's batted .364 in his last eight contests.The Cubs' Jake Arrieta (0-0, 2.70 ERA) allowed one run but walked five in four innings of a 4-3, 12-inning loss at St. Louis in his latest outing May 13. He hasn't completed six innings in any of his three starts that have followed a season-opening stint on the disabled list due to shoulder tightness."Regardless of where my pitch count is right now, whatever it's at is good enough to get me into the sixth," he said. "I need to be more efficient, that's the main thing."In his only appearance against the Padres in 2010, the right-hander allowed six runs in three innings of a 9-4 loss at Petco Park while with Baltimore.San Diego (21-26) has dropped five of seven, getting shut out for the eighth time this season in a 2-0 loss to Minnesota on Wednesday.Seth Smith had three of his team's eight hits to raise his average to .427 at home.San Diego's Eric Stults (2-4, 4.50) has posted a 3.12 ERA in his last two starts after recording a 9.82 mark in the previous two. He threw a season-high 6 2/3 innings and gave up three runs in a 3-1 loss at Colorado on Friday."Obviously when you go into the seventh inning only giving up a couple of runs (total) you'd like to have the result go your way," he said. "It's part of the game."The left-hander posted a 7.24 ERA while losing his first three starts against Chicago, but has gone 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in his past three matchups with the Cubs. He has recorded a 2.31 ERA while going 1-1 in two starts in this series at San Diego.Rizzo and Lake are a combined 1 for 11 against Stults.Black will miss this contest to attend his daughter's college graduation.