Villanueva set to return to rotation Sunday

Villanueva set to return to rotation Sunday

Villanueva set to return to rotation Sunday

OAKLAND -- Carlos Villanueva will be back in the Cubs rotation, starting on Sunday in the series finale against the Pirates.

Villanueva was 1-3 with a 3.93 ERA in eight starts, and then moved to the bullpen when Matt Garza was activated off the disabled list. He has compiled a 2.04 ERA in 16 relief appearances.

Because the right-hander hasn't started since May 14, he'll be limited to 60-70 pitches on Sunday, and the rest of the Cubs bullpen will back him up. Manager Dale Sveum said Thursday they may make a roster move if the bullpen gets overworked in three games leading up to Sunday.

"If it's fresh and no stress out there, we'll just wing it," Sveum said.

Villanueva won a spot in the rotation this spring, and five of his eight starts were quality starts, including 7 1/3 scoreless innings April 12 against the Giants at Wrigley Field.

"When he starts, he's going to have to have fastball command," Sveum said. "Coming out of the bullpen, he can get through with his trickery, but when you start, you have to have fastball command and get some outs with your fastball."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for 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.