MILWAUKEE -- Trade rumors regarding Jeff Samardzija started last summer, and the Cubs right-hander has done his best to shrug them off. But as the season progresses, and if the Cubs continue to fall out of the race, the rumors would start again.
Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who played for the Cubs from 2003-11, was asked if he thought Samardzija would be dealt.
"I don't know, I mean, Samardzija is pretty good," Ramirez said Friday night. "I don't know if you want to let somebody like that go. I don't know what his contract situation is, but I know he's pretty good. That's a guy you should -- you should -- build around. You just don't find those guys."
Would Ramirez want Samardzija on the Brewers' pitching staff?
"I'll take him, yeah," Ramirez said, laughing. "Any team. You ask the 29 other teams, who wouldn't take Samardzija?"
The right-hander has posted quality starts in each of his five outings so far and has a 1.53 ERA, yet is winless.
Renteria keeping communication lines open with Lake
MILWAUKEE -- Junior Lake had a rough night Friday. He misplayed a ball in left field, overthrew his teammates on a relay throw, and struck out twice, breaking his bat over his knee after his first whiff in the fifth.
Cubs manager Rick Renteria had a little chat with Lake.
"You have conversations continually to address issues that occur, and you do it in a classroom-type setting," Renteria said. "You talk about it, go over it, and run through the same scenarios. He's still developing as an outfielder."
Renteria asks Lake about being mentally prepared for every scenario, thinking about the batter, how fast he is, what the situation is in the game. But the bat incident?
"He was frustrated," Renteria said.
"All these guys care," Renteria said. "I don't think that's even an issue. What we have to continue to address as a team and players is that we have an idea and a purpose and a mindset of what we need to do out there playing the game of baseball. Every day is a class day, every day is a test. I'm hoping we continue to move forward, and the guys and their skill sets continue to move forward."
Lake is still learning how to play the outfield. He was converted last season after coming up as a shortstop and third baseman.
Ramirez retires Braun, Gomez in MLB debut
MILWAUKEE -- Neil Ramirez's father and his fiancee both made it to Milwaukee to see the Cubs right-hander make his Major League debut.
"It was awesome," Ramirez said about pitching Friday against the Brewers in relief. "It's everything you dream about as a kid, that first time on a big league mound. I'm just happy to keep it under control and keep the team in it and give the guys a chance to swing it and win the game."
He entered in the sixth and had to face both Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun, who were a combined 6-for-6 at that point. Ramirez got Gomez to fly out to right, walked Scooter Gennett and then struck out Braun.
"He's an incredible talent and has been for a long time," Ramirez said of Braun. "I tried to go right at him and execute the game plan that we'd talked about in the bullpen warming up."
It may have helped the right-hander that the Brewers didn't know him well. Ramirez was added to the Cubs' roster on Thursday.
Did he have butterflies?
"Oh, yeah, especially warming up," Ramirez said. "I felt it once I got on the mound. I kind of looked around and took it all in. I said, 'All right, you're here, everything's magnified a little bit, but it's still the same game, so go out there and pitch.' I was able to keep the nerves in check and go out and compete."
He's been a starter most of his career and is still adjusting to life as a reliever.
"I'm getting used to getting up and getting ready fast," he said. "That was the challenge first off and realizing you don't have to do as much to get ready. You're going to have adrenaline. Just get the ball down right away and get the pitches working and compete."
Starting is in the back of his mind.
"Honestly, if I'm in the big leagues, I'm happy doing whatever they want me to do," Ramirez said.
• Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta may have made his last Minor League rehab start.
On Saturday, Arrieta threw 44 pitches over two innings for Double-A Tennessee in his fifth Minor League outing. This was the equivalent of a starting pitcher's last Spring Training start, and was intended to be shorter.
The right-hander, who was slowed this spring because of tightness in his shoulder, gave up two runs (one earned) on two hits and one walk over two innings and struck out two.
As of now, Carlos Villanueva is scheduled to start Wednesday for the Cubs against the Reds. The Cubs want to see how Arrieta feels after Saturday's outing before deciding whether he's ready to join the big league team or needs more rehab time.
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.