3/6 Cubs Tuesday wrapup

Cubs manager Dale Sveum picked up his first win Tuesday when the Cubs beat the Rockies, 11-4. They’ve now outscored their opponents,  31-21, in three games.

“It’s better than being 0-3,” Sveum said of the win. “You score eight, nine, 10, 11 runs all the time, you’re bound to win.”

One of the keys was the defensive play by the outfielders, who had to deal with a tough sun and swirling wind.

“I don’t think anybody realizes how tough those catches were unless you’ve played here and you’ve played the outfield, especially in the later innings when the sun gets lower,” Sveum said.

Third baseman Ian Stewart also shined on two plays, and Sveum complemented his “athleticism and calmness.”

“It’s just awareness,” Sveum said of Stewart. “You can’t teach that kind of stuff.”

* Matt Garza threw gave up two runs on three hits in his two innings. He also kept things loose by suggesting to Sveum that he was going to do his post-game running wearing a tank top and shorts. Garza will stop by the manager’s office to chat.

“He’s actually asked, ‘Hey, how are things going? How do you like this stuff?'” Sveum said. “He’s not afraid. It’s refreshing. That’s what you want out of your players, not to feel afraid to come into the manager’s office and B.S., no matter what it is, whether it’s an issue or just to B.S. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“Why not?” Garza said. “He’s still a person. He likes to talk about stuff besides baseball. I like picking people’s brains. I try to slow him down a little bit — he’s go, go, go, go. He doesn’t say much — I try to get a couple more words out of him than, ‘Hey, go this way’ or ‘Go that way.'”

What do they talk about? Random stuff, Garza said. Whatever comes off the top of his head.

“It just kind of eases the tension and gets his mind off something else right now,” Garza said.

* Jeff Samardzija will make his first start Wednesday against the Royals. The right-hander has been impressive this spring. “There’s nothing not to like,” Sveum said of Samardzija, who is vying for one of the openings in the rotation. “His command is probably as good as I’ve ever seen from a hard throwing guy in live BP. His command of his cutter, his fastball, his slider, keeping the ball down, keeping the ball to his glove side, arm side, wherever he wants to get it, he’s pretty much been on target. He’s on a mission and he’s been as good as you can imagine right now up to this point.”

While Samardzija is pitching in Surprise, Paul Maholm will start in a B game in Mesa on Wednesday. Maholm was slowed this spring by the flu.

* Sveum was ousted in the bunting tournament on Tuesday by Maholm, who advanced to the final eight. Others to advance on Tuesday were Randy Wells, David DeJesus and Starlin Castro. Maholm will face Wells in the next round, while DeJesus and Castro will square off. Other final eight matchups are Jeff Beliveau vs. Casey Coleman and Adrian Cardenas vs. Welington Castillo.

* Geovany Soto remains on track to get into a game by Saturday. He’s been sidelined with a strained groin. However, Jason Jaramillo, one of the candidates for the backup catcher job, has been hindered by sore quads and has yet to play in a game. Castillo started on Tuesday and Michael Brenly was the backup.

* Brett Jackson hit solo homers in each of the intrasquad games, and belted a three-run homer on Tuesday. Is there a chance the highly touted outfielder could make the big league team?

“I don’t think you want a kid like that to not play,” Sveum said. “He hasn’t played a full year in Triple-A. He’s either going to make the team and play everyday or he’s going to be in Triple-A.”

Sveum likes his bench with Blake DeWitt, Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker. There appears to be one spot open and one candidate is Joe Mather, who can play the corners, the outfield and has power.

* The Cubs have been using a DH in three games so far, and will continue to do so as pitchers take their first turn in the rotation. Expect them to start hitting when they make their second starts.

— Carrie Muskat

1 Comment

Solid stuff there Carrie, thanks for providing updates from the front lines!

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