ST. LOUIS -- The Cubs restocked the bullpen on Sunday when they recalled Blake Parker from Triple-A Iowa, and he will be one of manager Rick Renteria's options as closer.
Parker took the roster spot of Chris Rusin, who was called up Saturday and pitched five innings in relief of starter Carlos Villanueva, and was then optioned back to the Minor Leagues after the game.
"You've got to be ready to pitch at any time, like we saw yesterday with Rusin -- whether it's one day or a couple weeks or the whole season," Parker said. "I'm glad I'm back up here and I want to contribute any way I can."
Parker appeared in 49 games in 2013 with the Cubs and compiled a 2.72 ERA and was a candidate for the bullpen on Opening Day, but struggled in Spring Training and opened at Iowa.
"This offseason, I wanted to come in ready to go and didn't really pitch the way I wanted to this spring," Parker said. "My arm felt good, my body felt good, I just wasn't getting it done."
The Cubs are trying to fill in for Jose Veras, who will be used in a different role after his struggles in his first four games. Parker is the career saves leader at Iowa, and knows how hard it is to get the last three outs.
"It's an unbelievably hard role, especially in the big leagues with the crowd involved and the umpires are a little bit tighter and the quality of the hitters is way better," Parker said. "It's the hardest job for a pitcher to get those last three outs. To just be able to come in and get outs is my thing, whether it's the ninth or the sixth."
Renteria said he'll use Parker, Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon or Justin Grimm in save situations.
"They give me various options," Renteria said. "You still have to put them in situations where they feel comfortable."
The Cubs have seen two pitchers -- Strop and Rondon -- each record a save within the first 11 games of the season. Last April, the Cubs had three different pitchers record a save within the month of April for the first time since the save became an official MLB statistic in 1969.
Cubs excited to honor Robinson at Yankee Stadium
ST. LOUIS -- The Cubs were to join Major League Baseball in celebrating Jackie Robinson Day on Tuesday, but with rain postponing the game, the festivities honoring Robinson were pushed to Wednesday, as part of a day-night doubleheader. Despite the temporary delay, it'll be a special occasion, even more so because it will be at Yankee Stadium. The last player to wear Robinson's No. 42 was Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who retired last season.
"For so long, No. 42 has basically been about Jackie Robinson, and with Mariano recently retiring and him being grandfathered in to wear No. 42, I think they share that moment," Cubs reliever Wesley Wright said. "They both stood and stand for so many great things.
"I think it's an honor to be there in that moment to wear No. 42 to honor Jackie on that day," Wright said.
Wright was in Yankee Stadium on Sept. 26 when Rivera pitched in his last game for the Yankees.
"That's a moment I'll never forget," Wright said. "To see that many people be that emotional about someone's farewell was really touching to me. Just to be standing in the bullpen and looking around and seeing everyone standing on their feet and applauding him and the emotion he showed on the field was very special."
The lefty never had a chance to talk to Rivera, but watched him closely.
"I admire his consistency and his ability to always be confident in his ability," Wright said. "As a relief pitcher, that's a key thing because you go through tough stretches. You have to remember how you got there. He was the epitome of being consistent."
On Tuesday, Wright will be thinking of Robinson, who broke baseball's color barrier on April 15, 1947. But he'll also be thinking about the other No. 42 who played most recently at Yankee Stadium.
"You can't ever take anything away from Jackie," Wright said. "His contribution was so significant in so many different ways, it will have its own little section. Mariano, too, his contributions to the game and the way he did it and his class, it should have its own section as well.
"It makes the No. 42 stand for so much more than just the No. 42," Wright said. "It's kind of like a way of life. The people who wore No. 42, they took pride in it, so it's pretty special."
"It's awesome," Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode said of the timing. "You've got the greatest reliever in baseball, along with historical Jackie Robinson Day. It's an awesome day to be at Yankee Stadium -- you've got three big occasions to celebrate in one day. It's an honor to be a part of it."
• The Cubs have two off-days this week, but will not tweak their rotation, which means Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Villanueva and Edwin Jackson will start next weekend against the Reds at Wrigley Field.
Villanueva will stay in the rotation despite lasting three innings Saturday against the Cardinals.
• After an off-day Monday, the Cubs play the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the first of eight Interleague series this season.
This will be the Cubs' first regular-season series at the new Yankee Stadium, which will be the 122nd ballpark in which the team will have played. After Tuesday, the Cubs will have played a regular-season game in every current Major League city and a game in every active ballpark.
"It was a little more traditional, and it was more of a pitchers' ballpark," Jose Veras said of the old Yankee Stadium. "The [new one] is a hitters' ballpark now. It's way different now."
The Cubs did play the first two games in the history of new Yankee Stadium, however, when the teams met in exhibition action prior to 2009. The Yankees won both games.
• This weekend was Renteria's first exposure to the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.
"I noticed, looking outside my hotel room, that there were a lot of people waiting to get into [Busch] Stadium and that was early in the morning," Renteria said. "It's neat. I think the fan base here and in Chicago are unique. I like my fan base."
• Top prospect Javier Baez was placed on the seven-day disabled list with Triple-A Iowa because of a sprained left ankle, injured while taking ground balls on Friday. Baez was 4-for-26 (.154) with two home runs so far this season.
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.