ST. LOUIS -- This weekend is Cubs rookie manager Rick Renteria's first taste of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry, and he wasn't quite sure what to expect. It's not as if Renteria hasn't been in a competitive series. When he was with the Padres, they had to contend with the Dodgers.
But Saturday will be the 20,425th meeting between the Cubs and Cardinals, and as much as St. Louis manager Mike Matheny tries to downplay it, the intensity will be high.
"I think we've all been kind of conditioned to make every game a rivalry to be consistent, regardless of who it is, but you can't help but feed off the life the fans have," Matheny said. "The Cubs fans show up here just like our Cardinal fans show up in Chicago.
"It's a great atmosphere whenever we play these guys," Matheny said. "It just seems to be that extra excitement that you kind of feed off of."
Renteria can only hope for the same kind of success Matheny had. The Cardinals won the World Series in 2011, and Matheny took over the next year for Tony La Russa and led the team to the National League Championship Series. St. Louis reached the World Series in 2013, only to lose to the Red Sox in six games.
"I'm really fortunate to be here in this particular situation," Renteria said of the Cubs. "Obviously, I do like all the guys we have and I like the guys who are coming. It's a situation where hopefully we're developing a particular type of mentality. Everybody talks about trying to do it, I'm going to try to do it, I'm no different. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel, but we are trying to maintain some consistency and positive approaches throughout the whole process."
Matheny, 43, played 13 seasons in the big leagues; Renteria, 52, played five years. Does that playing time help him as a manager?
"In the long run, the players have to gain trust," Renteria said. "I think you do it a little bit at a time. You can't come in too hot. They have to get to know you, they have to get to know your personality, also. They have to get to know that if you say something, you're going to do it.
"[They have to know] if you're pulling for them, that you show them you're pulling for them. I think it's been an ongoing and developing relationship, and I think it's going in the right direction. I'm happy with the way they've been going about their business. We've been fighting the last nine days, every single game. But that's indicative of them. They're pros, they can keep fighting and we want to keep the energy going as long as we can."
Cardinals: Wainwright readies to face Cubs
The Cardinals have scored two runs in Adam Wainwright's first two starts, and the right-hander, who faces the Cubs on Saturday, will be looking for a few more. Wainwright faced the Cubs four times last season and was 2-1, striking out 23 over 25 1/3 innings.
Wainwright will tie Matt Morris, Larry Jackson and Max Lanier for 10th on the Cardinals' all-time wins list with his next victory.
Right-handed hitters have had a little better success against Wainwright in the first two starts, going 7-for-31 compared to 1-for-16 by left-handed batters. The Cubs may start more right-handed batters, such as Mike Olt and Junior Lake, on Saturday.
Cubs: Villanueva set to make second start
Carlos Villanueva will be making his second start and fourth appearance of the season on Saturday. The perfect swingman, Villanueva picked up a win in his first start against the Phillies, giving up one run over five innings. In 31 games (10 starts) against the Cardinals, Villanueva is 5-4 with a 3.44 ERA, but was 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in six games (three starts) last season.
The win in his first start was even nicer for Villanueva, who took the loss in back-to-back extra-inning games in Pittsburgh in the opening series of the season.
"You have to forget about it," Villanueva said of the losses. "You want to do whatever you can to help the boys out and keep everybody happy."
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.