Results tagged ‘ Dale Sveum ’
Matt Garza’s next rehab start is Thursday, and it could be his last, which will create a problem for the Cubs who have a pretty good rotation right now. Chicago’s starters rank third in the National League with a 3.40 ERA behind the Cardinals and Nationals, and they have posted 23 quality starts with a 1.90 ERA in those games. Garza, on the disabled list because of a strained left lat suffered in a Spring Training workout Feb. 17, will make his fourth Minor League rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Iowa.
“I’m just going for the next one,” Garza said Tuesday. I’m looking forward to Thursday and after Thursday, we’ll make a decision. They want me to get stretched out and get deeper into games, and I guess that’s what I have to do now.”
He threw 66 pitches in his last outing for Double-A Tennessee but it was over 3 1/3 innings. The Cubs want him to go deeper in the game.
“I’ve been throwing strikes, I’ve been working on things I need to work on,” Garza said. “It’s all piecing together. I feel fine and am excited about Thursday.”
But who gets bumped when Garza is ready? Over the weekend, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said they weren’t considering a six-man rotation but on Monday, he said it could be a possibility.
“It’s a tough decision because everybody has pitched pretty well,” Sveum said. “It’s going to be one of those things that will be unfortunate for somebody but it’s a reality and it’s going to happen.”
Carlos Villanueva, who started Tuesday, has the most experience as a swingman.
“It might lean to who we’re playing that series, the matchups,” Sveum said. “Maybe you go to a six-man rotation for a week because of matchups. You never know what the bullpen is like. A lot of things come into play. We’ll make that decision — and I know you guys are going to keep asking this question every day. It’s not going to change.”
Travis Wood posted his eighth straight quality start on Monday, and has a 2.03 ERA. Scott Feldman has a 2.53 ERA in his seven starts, which include a complete game win.
“I guess that’s the best problem to have,” Garza said about everyone doing well. “I want to pitch. I’m not getting ready for no reason. The guys are doing great. I’ve got to really step into it and gear up for it. I’m excited to come back and chomping. I’m not looking forward to anything past Thursday.”
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs might want to save Dale Sveum some time and have lineup cards printed with Anthony Rizzo’s name in the No. 3 spot after the first baseman signed a seven-year, $41 million contract extension on Monday that includes two club options.
“In my position, it’s nice to have a guy projected for 30 [homers] and 100 RBIs in your lineup for the next seven to whatever years, especially with his makeup and defensive ability,” Sveum said Monday. “It’s pretty important to all of us — the city and the organization — to have somebody like that locked up for that long. It’s a pretty special day for all of us.”
Rizzo, 23, is the second young Cubs player to receive a long term extension. Shortstop Starlin Castro was rewarded with a seven-year, $60 million contract last August.
“Now, you don’t have pressure,” Castro said. “You have your contract, your family is good. The only thing you have to put in your mind is play hard and help your team win.”
With the two signings, GM Jed Hoyer has sent a clear signal as to who they plan on building the team around.
“This is just the base and the start of things to get these core players, those position players who you have control over for a long time and can stay here and be something special,” Sveum said.
Castro, 23, wasn’t surprised to see Rizzo get the large contract.
“I knew it was coming,” Castro said. “If it happened to me, I think the next one was him.”
Who’s next? Castro wouldn’t say. But Rizzo does give young players the same message.
“[The front office] has been watching me since I was 17,” Rizzo said. “They’ve seen me develop, they’ve seen me make my mistakes, and they’re going to continue to see me develop and do good things and bad things. What I tell the young guys is work hard. You can always control working hard. Once you get labeled as slacking off by one coach, that can stay with you for a long time. That’s the message I try to send.
“Last year at this time, I was in Triple-A and wondering when that call was going to come,” Rizzo said, “and it’s just the hard work pays off. Five years ago at this time, I was in a hospital waiting on my first treatment for cancer. It’s crazy how everything has come full circle.”
Now, the focus is on playing winning baseball.
“The only thing I think about is that, winning here,” Castro said. “I know it’ll be unbelievable. That’s why those people up there started signing players for long-term deals, to be here when the team becomes good every season. I think it’s very soon.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Last year at the Trade Deadline, the Cubs were sellers. That may be the case again this year if they don’t rally. GM Jed Hoyer said he feels there’s still time for the Cubs to get on track. Sveum agrees.
“We’ve lost so many games we’ve had control over,” Sveum said Sunday. “We know this record could be flip-flopped with a little better play because the pitching has kept us in so many games.”
The Cubs have 21 quality starts, yet have won eight of those games. Thirty-three of their 36 games have been decided by four runs or less, and 28 have been decided by three runs or less.
However, the Cubs are in rebuilding mode, and Sveum knows what that means.
“You know things like that are possible and you weigh all the options and what’s best for the organization,” Sveum said. “Those are things you have to do sometimes. It’s not that easy to see Dempster and Maholm go somewhere else but it is part of the game. We’re trying to ge this thing completely healthy.”
* Luis Valbuena was able to play catch and hit in the batting cage on Sunday, one day after spraining the little finger on his right hand sliding into third base. Valbuena was not in the lineup against Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez, but was available to pinch-hit, manager Dale Sveum said. Valbuena was not expected to go on the disabled list. With one out in the fifth Saturday, Valbuena doubled to right but was tagged sliding into third trying to stretch his hit and jammed his hand on the bag. X-rays showed no fracture, and Valbuena received treatment. He was batting .272 with five home runs and 13 RBIs this season.
* Matt Garza will make at least one more Minor League rehab start, and possibly two, after his abbreviated outing on Saturday. Garza gave up three hits and walked two over 3 1/3 innings Saturday for Double-A Tennessee in his third Minor League rehab start, throwing 66 pitches, 40 for strikes. He struck out two.
“He felt great and everything, but not real efficient,” Dale Sveum said Sunday. “Right now, we have to get him built up to get to the fourth, fifth and hopefully sixth inning.”
Garza will be in Chicago this week when the Cubs return for a three-game homestand against the Rockies, and make his next start for Triple-A Iowa.
It will be tough to eliminate one of the starters from the mix. Edwin Jackson is the only pitcher who has struggled, and he’s not a candidate to move to the bullpen.
“It ain’t going to be easy,” Sveum said about moving one of the starters. “Part of it sometimes, when you have these decisions … it’s a good problem to have, but for the individual, nobody deserves it. They’re pitching perfectly fine. It isn’t going to be the easiest thing to do.”
* With an off day scheduled for Thursday, the Cubs will not tweak their rotation but keep everyone on schedule, Sveum said. Travis Wood, Carlos Villanueva and Jeff Samardzija will face the Rockies in a three-game series at Wrigley Field that starts Monday.
– Carrie Muskat
Another day, another close game for the Cubs.
“Another one-run game — it [stinks],” Carlos Villanueva said. “We’re close, right there.”
Carlos Beltran hit a pair of RBI singles and Jon Jay drove in two runs, including a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth, to lift the Cardinals to a 5-4 victory on Wednesday over the Cubs, who hit into four double plays, and split the two-game series.
The Cubs now have had 28 of their 34 games decided by three runs or fewer, and the team is 10-18 in those games. Chicago is 5-8 in one-run games.
“It kind of speaks well for our team,” James Russell said of the tight games. “We don’t give up and we’re always in the game. If breaks fall our way, then we win a lot more games then we have right now.”
The loss wasted the fifth quality start by Villanueva. This was the 21st quality start by a Cubs pitcher, and they have compiled a 2.01 ERA but have won only eight of the games. Only the Cardinals (24) and Phillies (22) have more quality starts, and St. Louis has 15 wins and Philadelphia has 11.
“[Villanueva] did a nice job and got out of some jams and made the pitches when he had to,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “He got the outs when he had to and left it up to [Russell] who has been the most reliable guy for two years to get a left-hander out.”
Russell ran into trouble in the seventh. St. Louis trailed 4-3 when Matt Carpenter doubled off Russell and reached third on an error by Nate Schierholtz, who had trouble picking up Carpenter’s ball. Then Beltran delivered the game-tying RBI single.
“If I make a better pitch to Carpenter, I’m not in that situation,” Russell said. “I hung a curveball to him and he hit my mistake and that’s what good hitters do. He made me pay for it.”
Beltran’s hit snapped Russell’s season-opening scoreless streak at 13 innings, spanning 17 games.
“For some reason, the lefties they have over there, they hit left-handers pretty well,” Russell said of the Cardinals. “I’ve just got to find some different things to do against them.
“You’ll have those days when broken bat hits fall in and you’ll have days when guys will smoke balls and they’re hit right at somebody,” he said. “Right now, I was on the other end of it, but it is what it is.”
In the St. Louis eighth against Michael Bowden, Yadier Molina singled and moved up on a wild pitch before scoring on Jay’s single to center. Chicago now has lost 10 games in which it had a lead, tied with the Diamondbacks for the most in the National League.
The Cubs seem to have their starting pitching figured out and have settled on Kevin Gregg as the closer. It’s those middle innings that are a little tricky.
“We just can’t seem to shut anybody down in that sixth, seventh inning right now,” Sveum said. “We’re getting two strikes on people. We just can’t make a pitch when we have to.”
– Carrie Muskat
Darwin Barney, stuck in an 0-for-21 skid, took time Wednesday to hit the ball hard. Dale Sveum and Barney had an early hitting session at Wrigley Field in which the Cubs manager wanted his infielder to try to relax.
“It was nice to bring him out today and let him hit and not think about any mechanics, and get a mindset about hitting the ball as hard as he can,” Sveum said. “There were no mechanics going on out there.”
Sveum and Barney spent time together in Arizona for one week to work on the second baseman’s swing but whatever they did at that time has been “abandoned,” the manager said. The goal on Wednesday was to take some “brand new white balls and hit them as far as you can,” Sveum said.
Barney was batting .147 overall with a .275 on-base percentage.
“It’s confidence as much as anything,” Sveum said of the second baseman’s problems, “and understanding your job is to hit the ball hard and not try to do something with it every at-bat, just get a good pitch and hit it hard instead of trying to hit it to this field or that field or whatever. That was [the goal Wednesday] to have one mindset, hit the ball as hard as you can.”
– Carrie Muskat
Carlos Marmol met with Dale Sveum before Sunday’s game, and asked the Cubs manager for another chance to pitch as soon as possible. Marmol got his wish, and delivered on Sunday. Marmol retired the side in order in the sixth for the first time since April 18. He’d had six rough outings in a row, including Saturday when he walked two and hit a batter.
“I’m glad he gave me the ball,” Marmol said of Sveum. “It didn’t matter what inning. I told him I want to pitch, no matter what. He gave me the ball. He trusts me and I went out there and had a good inning today.”
On Saturday, Marmol threw 14 pitches, four for strikes. The ratio was better Sunday as he threw 12 pitches, seven for strikes.
“I threw a lot of strikes today and my slider was a little better and hopefully I can keep getting three outs — one, two, three,” Marmol said.
– Carrie Muskat
Edwin Jackson can be dominating for 90 percent of the game. The Reds took advantage of that 10 percent when he’s not. Jay Bruce hit an RBI double and Todd Frazier added a two-run single in the fourth, and Joey Votto had three hits, including an RBI double, to lift the Reds to a 7-4 victory Sunday over the Cubs and complete a sweep of the three-game series.
“I couldn’t avoid the big inning,” Jackson said. “I felt like for the most part we were attacking the hitters at a pretty good pace and made them hit the ball.”
The right-hander, who signed a four-year, $52 million contract this offseason, remains winless in seven starts for the Cubs. He was lifted after scattering eight hits and throwing 86 pitches over five innings.
“I had a different mind frame today,” said Jackson, who made a few mechanical adjustments after his last outing, a loss to the Padres. “I felt I could go out and throw strikes and challenge the hitters and we did that for the most part. They came out in the fourth inning and strung together a few timely hits where there were balls down the line or finding holes in the infield, and they were able to get people on base and score.”
Jackson has yet to pitch into the seventh this season, struggling with one bad inning in each of his outings. The Reds got him in the fourth. Votto and Brandon Phillips each singled to open the inning, and Bruce followed with his RBI double. Frazier rapped a two-run single to center to open a 3-0 lead.
“[Jackson] got three or four fastballs up in the zone right there,” Dale Sveum said. “He was better today. Votto, those guys put good swings on balls and got some ground balls. [Jackson's] ground balls seem to go through every hole. He was OK today. We just had a hard time with the bullpen holding them down. Their bullpen gave up one and ours gave up three and that changed the game around.”
The Cubs have lost six of their last eight games.
“It’s just a matter of going out, and you really can’t change what you’re doing,” Jackson said about how the team can get out of its funk. “You have to be yourself. I feel like if I can go out and throw the way I did today, more times than not, the results will be the opposite of what they were today.”
This is the first time Jackson has received a long-term contract, and he is the first player to get one from Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations. Is that the problem?
“I don’t feel like I’m pressing,” Jackson said. “I still feel like I’m being beat by the big inning. I have to go out and execute and make pitches when I have to.”
– Carrie Muskat
The first 30 games of the season have tested Cubs manager Dale Sveum’s patience. The Cubs have lost nine games in which they have led at some point, second-most in the National League, including Saturday’s 6-4 loss to the Reds.
“Those are tough losses and we’ve had quite a few of them this year,” Sveum said. “It’s no fun for anybody and the players battle, battle, battle and get those leads and then all of a sudden they’re gone. I don’t care who you are, it ain’t no fun.”
Twelve of the Cubs’ 19 losses have been by two runs or less. Twenty-five of their 30 games have been decided by three runs or less.
“Going into the season, we all said we had a much more competitive team,” Sveum said, citing the addition of left-handed bats Nate Schierholtz and Dioner Navarro. “For the most part, that’s all worked to a ‘T’ but the back end of the bullpen has cost us, and not just cost us, but we’ve had some miscues on the field that have cost our starters some really good outings as well.
On Thursday, Travis Wood was cruising over seven shutout innings, and two defensive miscues in the eighth led to four runs and helped the Padres post a come from behind win. On Saturday, Carlos Marmol’s meltdown cost the Cubs, who had a 4-1 lead going into the eighth. The starting pitching has posted 18 quality starts, yet the Cubs have won six of those games.
“It’s just a shame knowing that if we played really clean baseball and had a dominating bullpen, this could be flipped and 19-11, and instead, we’re on the back end of this and it’s frustrating,” Sveum said. “I think the good thing about it is knowing we’ve been in every single game we’ve played, and had games right in the palm of our hands and given them away. The team and everybody, we’re putting ourselves in situations to win games, and have leads. We just have to clean that up and somehow get those last three to six outs.”
It’s been trying for the second-year manager.
“I won’t lie, your patience can only take so much sometimes,” Sveum said. “Obviously, you put players out there to do a job and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t work out but the bottom line is production and getting the job done.”
– Carrie Muskat
The only way Carlos Marmol will get back on track is to keep pitching, and that’s the Cubs’ plan. Marmol struggled on Saturday, walking two and hitting another batter, and was the losing pitcher in a 6-4 loss to the Reds. The right-hander, who lost his job as the Cubs closer after the first week of the season, now has walked 12 and hit three batters over 11 2/3 innings as well as serving up 11 hits. His ERA is an ugly 6.17.
“I think the biggest thing with Carlos is concentration from pitch to pitch,” Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio said Sunday. “When Carlos gets in trouble, along with the rest of the guys, is when they get going too fast and [Saturday] was a classic case of that. You’ve just got to slow it down, visualize the pitch and execute the pitch. He’s certainly capable of doing that.”
Marmol struggled at the start of last season, and lost his job as closer then. But he was able to rebound and posted a 1.52 ERA in 30 games after the All-Star break.
“He thinks that guys are going to swing at every pitch out of his hand, and he tries to make every pitch a two-strike pitch and that’s part of the problem,” Bosio said of the right-hander. “He tries to bury the pitch and overthrow the pitch. He needs to back off. A lot of times, doing too much can be a deterrent. You’re not relaxed, you’re not getting the spin on the ball, you’re not working over the top of the ball, you’re working under the ball. Get him to relax and get him to where he was the second half of last year. That’s where we all want him to be and that’s where he wants to be.”
Bosio and Marmol reached an agreement in the second half last season that the catcher would call all the pitches. If Marmol shook them off, he had to pay the pitching coach a case of wine. Marmol only shook off once in the second half. That same rule applies this year but that’s not the problem; it’s executing the pitches.
“I think it’s his tempo and concentration for Carlos,” Bosio said. “Those are two huge things for him. I just think that at times he tries too hard. He grips the ball too hard and that’s when we see those pitches that aren’t executed.”
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said they’ll continue to use Marmol.
“He’s one of the seven guys [in the 'pen] and he’s got to pitch and we’ll get him back out there in some fashion,” Sveum said. “You can’t hide people. They have to pitch.”
– Carrie Muskat
Anthony Rizzo jokes with Cubs teammate Darwin Barney at least twice a week that the first baseman is going to make the defensive play of the year that day. On Thursday, Rizzo might have done just that. With one out in the seventh inning of a scoreless game against the Padres, Chase Headley hit a pop up that drifted toward foul territory near first base. Rizzo tracked it and was able to catch the ball, then fell between the tarp and brick wall. He hung on for the out and escaped without a cut or scrape.
“I visualize those plays daily,” Rizzo said Friday. “I actually had a bad read on it. The wind, I thought would blow it quicker, and next thing you know, it’s behind me. It was just an instinct play.”
He’s watched the replay a thousand times.
“I got a couple messages from people who said they were going to have a heart attack [watching it],” Rizzo said. “I didn’t realize it was that close — I don’t know how I fit in there.”
Rizzo is 6-foot 3-inches, 240 pounds. It’s impossible to figure out how he squeezed between the tarp and wall. He wouldn’t mind a little padding next time.
“I could’ve been really close to looking like a hockey player there if my face would’ve hit it,” Rizzo said.
Adding some cushion to the walls is most likely not in the Wrigley Field renovation plans.
“It’s something that’s been here for 100 years,” manager Dale Sveum said of the brick walls. “We’re getting back into the essence of Wrigley and the bricks and the ivy.”
Sveum isn’t going to tell his young first baseman to take it easy, either.
“That’s not the way you can play,” Sveum said. “You definitely don’t take aggressiveness away from people. That’s just the way you have to play the game.”
Rizzo, definitely lucky to not get injured, said he’s made some crazy plays before.
“There’s plays like that where your instincts take over,” he said. “Last year, before I got called up, I slid into stairs at [Triple-A] Iowa trying to make a play. It’s something where instincts take over and [Travis Wood] was out there pitching his tail off and you just want to make plays.”
He’s going to keep hustling after balls.
“I’m not going to not sell out, no matter what,” Rizzo said. “It doesn’t matter if I get hurt, I get hurt. It’s not like I’m not going to make the play because I’m scared.
– Carrie Muskat