9/20 Brain cramps
With two outs in the sixth inning Wednesday night, Luis Valbuena hit a RBI double that pulled the Cubs within 5-4 of the Reds. Valbuena was looking into left field after the hit, and taking off his batting gloves. That’s when Reds pitcher Mike Leake threw to second baseman Brandon Phillips, who tagged Valbuena. The inning was over, the rally ended, and the Cubs eventually lost the game, 6-5.
“It surprised me,” Valbuena said of the play.
It was puzzling.
“It just seems we have one of these things every three, four days that are not even explainable,” Dale Sveum said Thursday. “You obviously don’t practice staying on the base when the pitcher isn’t on the mound. They’re things that just boggle your mind for Major League players who have played a lot of baseball, to be looking off into left field before the pitcher is on the mound. These things are unacceptable. Why these things happen drive you crazy as a manager. You have no rhyme or reason for things like that to happen.”
Sveum will accept responsibility when a player misses a bunt or there’s a breakdown in fundamentals. Wednesday’s gaffe was all on Valbuena.
“I don’t take anything to heart when a player gets picked off standing and gazing at the stars,” Sveum said.
Valbuena was in the Cubs’ lineup on Thursday.
“He feels as bad as anybody,” Sveum said. “It’s not one of those things where he was dogging it or anything like that. Why these brain farts happen, it’s not something to bench somebody for. It’s hard to fathom something like that happening, especially in a key moment of the ballgame. We had them on the ropes right there.”
The Reds are battling for a postseason berth and the National League Central Division title. The Cubs players should be fighting for jobs for 2013, Sveum said.
“We don’t have people here who are guaranteed jobs or anything like that,” Sveum said. “That alone should be a motivating factor for stuff like that to not happen. You have to focus 300 pitches a game, nine innings, 10 innings, whatever it might be. You can never let your guard down. Those are things we’re evaluating for people we want in this organization for when we get ready to win.”
Do the players understand that?
“You better hope so because it’s their livelihood,” Sveum said. “You’re fighting to have a Major League job. If you’re a rookie, you make $500,000. It’s not a bad job to have. You better understand these things are being evaluated every single day.”
— Carrie Muskat