As the Cubs enter the 2014 campaign, there is much talk about who will be a leader for this team. There’s talk of possibly Starlin Castro or Anthony Rizzo stepping up. Nate Schierholtz‘s name has been mentioned, but there really isn’t a true “leader” on this Cubs team. Can Carlos Villanueva step up and be that guy?
“Every team has players that people gravitate to because they feel they have a certain amount of trust with them,” said Rick Renteria. “Villanueva has been around. Guys like him, they know him. He’s someone they can talk to.”
This isn’t a complete surprise for Cubs fans. Entering last season Villanueva was a very vocal player within the clubhouse. Now, with a full season under his belt and more comfort with the Cubs, he hopes to be part of something special in Chicago.
“You don’t understand what it is to play as a team and play together until you’re pushing for a playoff spot. When you’re in that run no one cares about home runs or strikeouts. If you struck out four times but made a defensive play, no one cares about the strikeouts because we’re one game closer to the playoffs. There’s no match for that. I’ve been in the playoffs once and I’m dying to go back.”
Villanueva is aware of the possibilities, but hasn’t hesitated to make his feelings known.
“The bittersweet part would be leaving this organization which I feel very comfortable in now,”Villanueva said. It takes me a while to get to a place where I can be myself. My normal, loud self. If I was on other teams I probably wouldn’t say anything. But I’m saying it here,” Villanueva stated. “It’s not a secret I like it here. And they like me here too.”
The Cubs need a leader outside of Renteria in the clubhouse. This is a young Cubs team, and is only likely to get younger as the season goes on. There’s no manual saying you have to be star to be a leader. He has experience, he has the personality, and he has the desire to win. Those are all qualities that you look for in a leader. Combine all that with the superb facial hair he displayed last season and I see no reason for Carlos not to succeed in the position.