CHICAGO -- Want to invest in the Cubs? Owner Tom Ricketts said Friday they are considering selling minority shares in the team to help finance the $500 million renovation plan for Wrigley Field and the surrounding area.
"Any time you're looking at privately financing a big project like this, you're going to look at all your different sources of potential financing," Ricketts said prior to the Cubs' home opener. "We're going to take a look at whether or not it makes sense to bring in outside investors."
The shares would be non-controlling and shareholders would join the Tribune Co. as investors in the team. The Tribune Co. kept a 5 percent stake in the Cubs after it sold the franchise to the Ricketts in 2009.
"Most teams are owned by dozens of investors," Ricketts said. "It's unusual for anyone to own 95 percent of the team. We'll look at whether or not that fits for us. It is non-controlling minority shares."
Ricketts said the process is in the initial stages and "just an option for us."
The Cubs had hoped to begin the renovations this past offseason on the ballpark, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. However, all work has been delayed while the Cubs deal with objections from the surrounding rooftop owners regarding additional signage in the outfield.
There were plans to have a see-through advertising sign in right field on Opening Day, but the only addition was a Weber ad on one of the outfield doors.
"We'll take that day by day," Ricketts said of the new signage.
He was optimistic the team could get something done with the rooftop owners and avoid litigation.
"The key is to keep moving forward and keep talking," Ricketts said. "I expect something will work for us -- we'll figure it out."
The original plan had been for the renovations to be completed over five offseasons, but Carl Rice, vice president of ballpark operations, said Friday they could get the work done in four.
"We have looked at the schedule, and collapsed it to four years as long as we can start at certain periods of time," Rice said. "If we get delayed it's a little more problematic."
Rice said if they start this October, the goal would be to complete the project by Opening Day 2018.
Villanueva confident he's ready to start finale
CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Carlos Villanueva threw a bullpen session Friday in preparation for what he feels will be his first start on Sunday. The right-hander was eager to get back on the mound.
"I threw a bullpen and I told [pitching coach Chris] Bosio, 'I wish I could pitch today,'" Villanueva said. "I feel really good today."
Villanueva took the loss in the Cubs' first two games Monday and Wednesday, pitching in relief. His start on Sunday was in question because of the workload, and manager Rick Renteria said he would talk with Bosio to go over their options.
As far as Villanueva is concerned, he's starting in the series finale against the Phillies.
"I'm in on Sunday," Villanueva said. "Unless they tell me otherwise, I'm in."
Villanueva won the fifth spot in the rotation, and he was expected to stay there until Jake Arrieta is activated from the disabled list. Arrieta, slowed this spring by tightness in his right shoulder, was to make his first Minor League rehab start on Saturday for Double-A Tennessee in Pensacola, Fla.
Losing the first two games, both extra-inning losses, was tough for Villanueva, but also part of the job as swingman.
"For me, it goes back to doing whatever it takes in whatever situation," Villanueva said. "It would've been nice if it came out the other way. I feel pretty good. It happened quick. The full inning [Wednesday], I felt pretty good that inning.
"In those situations, you can't really make a mistake, and I made two mistakes, I'd say," he said. "I made the mistake to [Starling] Marte with a high changeup, and a high changeup to [Neil] Walker. I worked on that in the bullpen today."
Renteria keeping hopeful mindset for Cubs
CHICAGO -- Maybe on Saturday, Cubs manager Rick Renteria will take the train to work. On Friday, his first day at his new home office, Wrigley Field, he drove, and he finally got to see his new office.
"I got a desk and a phone and everything I need," Renteria said.
This is Renteria's first big league managing job, and the 52-year-old has been very positive but also low key about his role.
"I feel pretty calm, quite frankly," he said prior to Friday's game. "I'm not too worried about anything, just got to go play the game. We still have to play the game."
Renteria opened the home portion of the schedule against the Phillies and former Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, who is very familiar with Wrigley Field's elements.
What can Renteria do to change the Cubs, who have four straight losing seasons?
"Hopefully, it's just the mindset," Renteria said. "I'm a pretty positive individual, and I think I try to make sure we understand we have to stay focused and grind out every game and every piece of work we do does matter, every at-bat matters, every out matters, and there's a way to approach the game, win, lose or draw. Hopefully, I bring an attitude that's a fighting attitude and wants to win."
The Cubs may not be predicted to finish high in the National League Central, but Renteria is optimistic.
"For us, not winning is disappointing for any manager or team," he said. "That's the goal. I know if we fall short of that, it'll be disappointing because we want to win and the club wants to win.
"Every club wants to get into the playoffs, and our mindset is to get into the playoffs," he said. "Most people might think that's unrealistic, but these kids here are playing pretty well. We had a decent spring. What do they say? 'Hope springs eternal?' We'll see where we're at when it's all said and done."
No. 5 Cubs prospect Soler placed on DL
CHICAGO -- Cubs No. 5-ranked prospect Jorge Soler had to leave his Minor League season opener Thursday because of a sore right hamstring, and he was placed on Double-A Tennessee's disabled list Friday.
Soler doubled in the first inning off Mat Latos, who was making a rehab start for Pensacola. Soler was limited to 55 games at Class A Daytona last season because of a strained left calf.
"It sounds like the exact same injury [Soler had this spring]," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Friday. "He maybe rushed back too early to get ready for Opening Day or maybe it's a coincidence. He hits a double in the gap against Latos, and it's a shame that's the way his season started out. Hopefully, we'll get good news and he'll be back on the field soon."
Soler was to have an MRI on his leg either Friday or Saturday, Hoyer said.
• Hoyer would not say whether the Cubs are still talking to Jeff Samardzija about a contract extension, or if the team would discuss anything this season.
"We'll keep that in-house," Hoyer said. "In general, it's up to the player [whether to talk in-season]. We don't have any problem negotiating in-season. I don't have to hit a fastball or throw a strike. It doesn't bother me or [president of baseball operations Theo Epstein], but if he or his agent thinks it'll influence a performance at all, then we don't do it. We take it on a case-by-case basis."
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.