CINCINNATI -- One of the reasons the Cubs hired Rick Renteria as manager was because of his skills in developing young players, and he could have two of them in the All-Star Game.
Starlin Castro was named to the National League All-Star team, while Anthony Rizzo was a candidate for the NL Final Vote. Both are coming back from disappointing 2013 seasons. Renteria was quick to say he could not take credit for the turnaround by the two 24-year-old players.
"Those guys have worked hard and done what they need to do to move forward," Renteria said. "Give the credit to the coaches and everybody who has been working with these guys and having conversations with them on a daily basis. Give them credit for going out there and playing the game."
Castro struggled to bat .245 last season, while Rizzo batted .233. They were far removed from any All-Star consideration.
"We knew coming in that these guys have skill and aptitude to play the game," Renteria said. "They've found a sense of comfort, confidence, another year of experience under their belts -- there's any number of things that could contribute to it. Up to this point, it's gratifying you have two young men on your ballclub who have done really well."
Castro has said one of the reasons he's happier this year is that he's been inserted into the fourth spot in the lineup and stayed there. It also helps that he's batting behind Rizzo.
"You're talking about two guys who are really complementing each other very well," Renteria said. "That makes kind of a natural position for them to be in, and it's worked well. The biggest thing is they're just going out and playing and picking each other up. It's fun to see them and fun to see how other guys work around them and contribute."
Hendricks optioned after Major League debut
CINCINNATI -- The Cubs optioned right-handed pitcher Dallas Beeler to Triple-A Iowa on Thursday and selected right-hander Kyle Hendricks from the Minor League team.
Hendricks made his Major League debut Thursday in the Cubs' 6-4, 12-inning win over the Reds before being sent back down after the game, since the Cubs won't need another starter before the All-Star break.
Hendricks took a no-decision, giving up four runs on five hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out seven.
Beeler gave up four runs over five innings in the Cubs' 4-1 loss to the Reds on Wednesday in his second big league start.
The Cubs have yet to decide how they'll fill the two vacancies in the rotation created by last Friday's trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the A's. Jake Arrieta, Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson will start the final three games before the All-Star break at Wrigley Field against the Braves.
Hendricks was 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA in 17 starts at Triple-A Iowa. He is one rotation option, as is right-hander Dan Straily, who was acquired in the deal with Oakland.
Renteria, Hoyer set to discuss rotation choices
CINCINNATI -- The Cubs are expected to open the second half with Jake Arrieta, Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood in line to face the D-backs. But what happens next?
Manager Rick Renteria said he'll meet with general manager Jed Hoyer and others to discuss who will fill the rotation spots created by last Friday's trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Athletics.
The Cubs have plenty of pitchers to chose from, Renteria said, including Dan Straily, who was acquired in the deal with Oakland. Others to be considered are right-handers Kyle Hendricks and Dallas Beeler, who made his second big league start Wednesday, and lefty Tsuyoshi Wada. Hendricks made his Major League debut Thursday, and Wada made his first start in the U.S. big leagues on Tuesday.
"I would say all of them are [in the mix]," Renteria said Thursday. "I would say you can't discount anybody."
Arrieta embracing new role in rotation after trade
CINCINNATI -- Jake Arrieta had a standout career at Texas Christian, winning 14 games in his sophomore season in 2006. Now, he finds himself in the No. 1 spot in the Cubs' rotation, and he said it's similar to his college days.
With Opening Day starter Jeff Samardzija and veteran Jason Hammel both gone via a trade to the A's, Arrieta is the Cubs' ace.
"It's kind of a role I've embraced and been in in the past," Arrieta said. "I was the guy in college and enjoyed that role. The college game is completely different, and the season is structured a completely different way, but I still understand that role.
"I've been willing and able and ready to accept those responsibilities for a while. The performance pushes me more in that direction than I expected."
Arrieta will make one more start before the All-Star break, as he will get the ball on Friday as the Cubs wrap up the first half with a three-game series against the Braves.
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.