Results tagged ‘ Dale Sveum ’

9/20 Gregg and the Cubs

First it was Edwin Jackson vs. Dale Sveum, then Jeff Samardzija vs. David Bell. On Friday, it was Kevin Gregg against Theo Epstein. The Cubs have eight games remaining, and now they’re arguing over who is the closer.

The Braves beat the Cubs, 9-5, on Friday and moved closer to clinching the NL East. Gregg gave up four runs in the ninth and took the loss. After the game, the right-hander said he was upset at being told this week that he was no longer the closer.

“For an organization to just come out and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to go in a different direction …’ You know, professional courtesy would’ve been nice,” Gregg said after the game in the clubhouse.

Sveum gave Gregg the news, but the pitcher said he felt the decision came from Epstein.

“[Friday’s game] didn’t unfold like I wanted, but I probably tried a little too hard,” Gregg said. “What they told me over the last couple of days makes it difficult to play this game anyway … let alone knowing what they think. That shows they are not that interested in me coming back here. I will worry about next year next year. But it gives me a good indication of their thoughts going forward.”

Epstein was angry when he heard Gregg’s comments, and went up to the press box to meet with the media.

“Apparently, Kevin misunderstood Dale and thought he was having his job permanently taken away, despite getting the ball in the closer’s role the last couple of days,” Epstein said. “He apparently had some choice words. … Upon hearing that, I called him up to Dale’s office to tell him how disappointed I was with him, given the way we’ve treated him this year. You know, briging him back … and showing faith in him and the great job he has done for us this year. It took him a couple minutes to understand he misunderstood Dale and he apologized to me and to Dale. I told him I would sleep on it and decide whether we would have any disciplinary action … let him know if he was released [Saturday] morning.”

Gregg then came up to the press box to talk.

“In the conversation I was having with Dale [in Milwaukee], I didn’t understand exactly what he was saying,” Gregg said. “Unfortunately for myself, it kind of got under my skin.

“Now that I have sat down with Theo and Dale again, they clarified things and I was able to cool off a little bit. It helped to be able to talk to them and see what they actually are thinking. They want to get a look at Pedro, but they are not going to take anything from me, either. They wanted to work together to see what the future holds for the organization with him and myself. I am OK with that. I like that idea.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/20 Epstein: Evaluation continues

Theo Epstein said Friday he understands the speculation about Dale Sveum’s status after the Cubs president of baseball operations said the manager was being evaluated. But Epstein added the review is a normal process. Sveum is finishing his second season as the Cubs manager, and has one year remaining on his contract with an option for 2015. On Tuesday in Milwaukee, Epstein would not confirm whether the manager was returning next year.

“I gave an answer that could be interpreted a number of different ways,” Epstein said Friday at Wrigley Field. “The bottom line is we have a process at the end of the year, unless it’s been a perfect season and everyone gets pats on the back. Until we get to where we want to be as an organization, everyone, including myself, gets evaluated and we look to find places where we can do things better next year.”

Speculation has begun in the Chicago media on who would possibly succeed Sveum. Epstein dismissed talk about any names.

“We wouldn’t be doing our job if there wasn’t an evaluation process,” Epstein said. “I totally understand that [for the media] it became a story. We answer questions honestly. Is anyone definitely coming back? At this point, Well, no, because we’re in the midst of an evaluation process.

“That’s really standard for this time of year,” he said, “and it’ll be resolved quickly after the season and we’ll move forward. I’m proud of a lot of what Dale and the staff have accomplished with the big league team this year in certain areas.”

A decision could come as early as Sept. 30 when Epstein, Sveum and the coaching staff were expected to meet in Chicago.

— Carrie Muskat

9/19 Barney: “It’s hard to blame anybody”

The Cubs lost 101 games in Dale Sveum’s first season as manager, and entered Thursday’s game with 89 losses and 10 games to play. The front office has said it will not evaluate Sveum on the basis of wins and losses. But an evaluation is underway.

“In a season like this, it’s hard to blame anybody,” Darwin Barney said. “We’re all accountable for our own actions and our play on the field. … It is a business and any time a team has this kind of a sesaon, there’s obviously going to be evaluations,” he said. “That’s not to say [Sveum] did a bad job or any of us think he did a bad job — I stand behind Dale. It’s just an evaluation and we’ll see how it goes.”

Theo Epstein will meet with Sveum and the coaching staff on Sept. 30 in Chicago after the regular season ends.

“I think a lot of us stand behind Dale and think he’s the right fit for this team,” Barney said. “That’s obviously not our call. Everybody’s being evaluated now, it’s top to bottom. It’s how can we make this better and turn this around.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/18 Sveum: “I understand the process”

On Tuesday, Theo Epstein said Dale Sveum was being evaluated just like the players, and wouldn’t say definitely whether he would return as the Cubs manager. Sveum said Wednesday he understood the process and expected to know his future once the regular season ends.

“We’ve been in good communication through all this, and I understand that they go through what they have to go through on their end as far as the evaluation of myself and the coaching staff,” Sveum said Wednesday about conversations he’s had with Epstein. “That’s basically where we are. It’s the same as last year and it’ll always go on. That’s the way it is.”

The Cubs lost 101 games in Sveum’s first year at the helm and have lost 88 so far with 11 games to go. Did Sveum feel he was safe for next year?

“I would hope to think so,” he said. “I’ve been around the game long enough to understand how the whole process works. I’ve been happy with the way we’ve done things. Some things haven’t gone too well and some things have gone really well. I’m happy with my coaching staff and all that. That’s up to [the front office] and they’re the bosses, and they make those decisions and they have all kinds of things to evaluate.”

One of the criteria Epstein said he was using to evaluate Sveum was the development of young players such as Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. Both have struggled this season.

“”We all are accountable for people’s production,” Sveum said. “Obviously, they haven’t had too good a season. On the other hand, it’s only Rizzo’s second season and we seem to forget that a lot of times. This kid came up last year on top of the world, coming from Triple-A, and fell right in and was living on electricity last year.

“This year, he’s putting too much pressure on himself for whatever reason,” Sveum said of the first baseman, who was batting .227 with 22 home runs and 75 RBIs. “This is a grueling season and it’s a grueling thing to be in the third hole in the Chicago Cubs lineup in Chicago. Those are things that are learning experiences that go on.

“Castro has already been there and done that as far as two, three good seasons in a row but Castro is really swinging the bat like he can [now], and going down the stretch, he’s figured some things out and is doing really well right now.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/17 Brewers 4, Cubs 3

Jeff Samardzija reached 200 innings and 200 strikeouts for the first time in his career and also notched his first recorded dugout argument with coach David Bell.

Carlos Gomez smacked a tying two-run homer in the seventh, and pinch-runner Jeff Bianchi scored on a sacrifice bunt by pinch-hitter Logan Schafer in the ninth to lift the Brewers to a 4-3 victory Tuesday night over the Cubs at Miller Park.

It got interesting in the Brewers’ sixth. Milwaukee led 1-0 when Norichika Aoki tripled down the right field line. Samardzija escaped any damage as Jean Segura popped up and Jonathan Lucroy hit into a fielder’s choice with Aoki getting caught in a rundown. Lucroy tried to reach second on the play, but was thrown out. After the inning ended, Samardzija and Bell got into a heated discussion in the dugout. It’s the second argument in as many days for the Cubs. On Monday, Edwin Jackson and manager Dale Sveum had an animated shouting match in the dugout when the pitcher was pulled.

The problem between Samardzija and Bell was that the pitcher wasn’t happy with where first baseman Anthony Rizzo was positioned against Aoki. That’s Bell’s job.

“They were just screaming a little bit about our strategy,” Sveum said.

But in back to back games?

“Sometimes that happens,” Sveum said. “We’ve obviously been fortunate to not have anything like that happen. Unfortunately, it’s back to back nights. Tonight, that was really nothing.”

“We were just talking strategy,” Samardzija said of the disagreement.

“Some of the best teams I’ve ever been on, and the best players I’ve been around, this stuff happens quite often, unfortunately,” Bell said. “It’s not something you want to have happen but in the heat of the moment when you’re competing, like I said he does, and we all do, I think things like this are going to happen. The best teams and best players, it seems to happen more. It’s not a big deal.”

How much of a competitor is Samardzija? Before anyone could ask him a question, Bell said, “I love everything about this guy, the way he competes and the way he cares and the way he goes about everything and his intensity. It’s going to make him a great pitcher for a long time. I absolutely love the guy.”

Samardzija has seen plenty of brouhahas during his Cubs career involving Carlos Zambrano and former manager Mike Quade. On a scale of what he’s witnessed in the past, the right-hander graded Tuesday’s incident a “one.”

“There are a lot of cameras out there, that’s the way it is,” Samardzija said. “It’s just competitive dudes, man, playing to win a game. It’s good to see. People care. Our record isn’t where we want it to be right now and nobody’s happy about it. We’re out here scraping and clawing and doing everything we can to win a ballgame.

“‘Belly’ is the epitome of that, of doing whatever he can to win a ballgame,” Samardzija said of the third base coach. “He cares, everyone on this team cares. Nobody is happy where we’re at as a team and we just want to win every game we can. We’ve had some pretty good characters here on these teams that would overshadow this.”

Welington Castillo gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead in the seventh with a two-run homer. But Samardzija walked Aramis Ramirez to open the Brewers’ seventh, and Gomez followed with his 20th home run off a hanging slider to tie the game.

“Besides one pitch, he was really good,” Sveum said of Samardzija. “He used his fastball, pitched inside, did really well pitching inside and had his fastball working really well.”

In the Milwaukee ninth, Justin Grimm walked Ramirez, who was lifted for Bianchi, and he moved up on Gomez’s single. Scooter Gennett then bunted, but he was safe on an error by Grimm, who could not field the ball cleanly and whose throw pulled Rizzo off the bag. With the bases loaded, Caleb Gindl popped up to shortstop Starlin Castro, and Schafer bunted to Grimm, with Bianchi scoring.

“Leadoff walks never help,” Grimm said. “I threw some close pitches on the outside and they were a little out. Then the base hit, and then I don’t field my position and didn’t give myself any help at all. Bases loaded, and the guy got the bunt down. Maybe I should’ve gone fastball, I don’t know. I thought it was a good pitch [to Schafer],” Grimm said. “I was trying to get the guy out. It didn’t work out in my favor. I made it really tough on myself.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/17 Theo, Sveum meet

Theo Epstein said Dale Sveum has done a “remarkable job” maintaining a good clubhouse despite two rough seasons but also said the manager was being evaluated with the rest of the coaching staff and a decision on his future would be made after the season.

Asked directly whether Sveum would be back in 2014, Epstein said they will go through a check list, and added “there are no alarm bells to ring” but it is a subject that will be addressed once the evaluation process is completed.

Epstein met with Sveum on Tuesday at Miller Park for about four hours to go over the roster, the coaching staff and the manager’s performance this season.

Sveum was tested on Monday when he and pitcher Edwin Jackson clashed in the dugout because the right-hander was not happy about being pulled after four innings. It was the first public incident in Sveum’s two seasons with the Cubs.

“With respect to keeping the clubhouse incident free, I think he’s done a remarkable job,” Epstein said Tuesday. “That really is the first such incident in two very difficult seasons which I think is a feather in Dale’s cap.”

Epstein complimented Sveum’s demeanor rubbing off on the players in the clubhouse.

“There haven’t been many conflicts with players,” Epstein said. “Obviously, everything hasn’t gone the way we wanted the last two years but as far as incidents and tempers flaring, there haven’t been that many. I think teams sometimes take on the personality of their manager, and Dale being so even keel has rubbed off on the atmosphere here.”

The Cubs lost 101 games last season, and will not finish with 100 losses this year but will likely be in last place in the National League Central.

“I think we’ve been very up front that we’re not evaluating Dale on wins and losses,” Epstein said. “Our record is more of a reflection of the roster that we’ve put on the field as a baseball operations department and where we are in this building process. I don’t hold Dale accountable for the record.”

So if Epstein isn’t evaluating Sveum on the record, what is he looking at? Epstein cited the development of young players; in-game decision making; the way he uses the roster; the manager’s ability to create a culture of accountability, hard work, and preparation; and the ability to develop solid, trusting relationships with players. The latter is important so the team can deal with adversity.

“Dale’s been given a difficult hand to play at times by us,” Epstein said. “There are certain categories where it’s hard to evaluate him. Any time an organization suffers back to back last place seasons, you have to examine every single aspect of the organization. We’re looking at our own decision making process in the front office and evaluating the players.”

There is no timetable, except that a decision will be made when the regular season ends.

“I think, as a whole, Dale has had a nice calming effect on the club,” Epstein said. “I think he’s established a level of professionalism here that’s admirable and held his head up high in difficult circumstances in the course of two years.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/16 Brewers 6, Cubs 1

Edwin Jackson lost Monday’s game and his argument with manager Dale Sveum in the dugout. Jackson gave up two runs in an abbreviated four-inning start and made an error in the Cubs’ 6-1 loss to the Brewers at Miller Park. But it was his animated discussion with Sveum after he was pulled that was the focus. The right-hander was lifted after throwing 76 pitches in his shortest start since lasting three innings on May 23. Jackson gave up two hits and three walks, and he committed one of three errors in the game by the Cubs. Then the fireworks.

After he was replaced by pinch-hitter Brian Bogusevic in the fifth, Jackson was seen in the Cubs dugout arguing with Sveum. Bench coach Jamie Quirk, pitching coach Chris Bosio and a few players also were present. Jackson then went into the clubhouse.

“He wasn’t real happy being taken out of the game and I understand that,” Sveum said. “That’s my decision, and I’ll leave it at that.”

Was it Jackson’s performance on the field that prompted Sveum to make the switch? The Cubs trailed 2-0 at that point and Jackson was to bat third in the fifth.

“He was already at 75 pitches, and I felt as many one-run games that we play and in this ballpark, I was going to take a shot at tying it back up and making sure we score that one run,” Sveum said. “He was at 75 pitches, and he wasn’t happy with coming out of the game at that point and not getting to five innings. You respect that about players who want to stay in the game, and I made that decision.”

Jackson said he still felt strong despite the high pitch count at that point.

“I was just ready to go,” Jackson said. “As a pitcher, we’re always ready to go. We have a lot of competitors on this team. We’re ready to battle at all times. Everybody wants to stay in the game, the whole staff wants to stay in the game. He made his decision that he wanted to pinch-hit.”

What set off Sveum?

“I don’t know,” Jackson said. “I don’t have a problem with him, I’m sure he doesn’t have a problem with me. Something happened, but it’s not really a big deal. It might be made more of a big deal than it is, it might be blown out of proportion more than it really is. I don’t have a problem with anybody on the staff.”

Jackson ended up with the loss, and is now tied for the most losses in the Major Leagues with the Astros’ Lucas Harrell at 16. That’s not what the right-hander probably expected when he signed a four year, $52 million contract with the Cubs in the offseason.

“It’s the competitive nature,” Jackson said. “We see it all the time in football.”

Was he surprised at Sveum’s outburst?

“Maybe a little bit,” Jackson said. “But right after that, I didn’t have a problem, I didn’t have a problem with him, I still don’t have a problem with him. No grudges or anything like that.”

On this night, Caleb Gindl hit an RBI triple, a single, and a two-run home run to help Starling Peralta pick up the win. In the Milwaukee fourth, Scooter Gennett singled with one out and scored on Gindl’s triple. Gindl then tallied on Martin Maldonado’s sacrifice, and Maldonado was safe at second on Jackson’s throwing error. Peralta lined out to third baseman Luis Valbuena, but he overthrew second and Maldonado moved up on the error. Aoki struck out to end the inning. Then Jackson was told his day was done.

“I was caught off guard a little bit,” he said. “That’s the nature of the game. He’s the manager. He can make the calls whenever he feels like he needs to.”

The Cubs would need a strong finish to pass the Brewers and not finish last in the NL Central. It’s surprising there haven’t been more problems.

“We have a group of guys who are going to go out there and fight, good year, bad year, good game, bad game,” Jackson said. “It’s been a crazy year for us but like I said, everybody is out working every day and striving to get better.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/12 Pirates 3, Cubs 1

Chris Rusin knew he would have a tough time with the Pirates, who rank second in the National League against left-handed pitchers with a .266 team batting average. Andrew McCutchen and Marlon Byrd lead the attack, hitting .391 and .336, respectively, against southpaws. Rusin held the Pirates to four hits over seven innings, but it wasn’t good enough.

Byrd and Pedro Alvarez each hit RBI singles off Rusin in the fourth to spark the Pirates to their fourth straight win, a 3-1 decision Thursday over the Cubs. Pittsburgh began the night one game behind St. Louis in the NL Central.

“He did a great job against a lineup that kills left-handers,” Dale Sveum said of Rusin. “That was, to me, his most impressive outing.”

All of the Pirates hits and two runs off Rusin came in the fourth inning, and he did not walk a batter. His ERA dropped to 2.85, the lowest of any rookie left-handed starter in baseball this season. Next closest are Cincinnati’s Tony Cingrani (2.92 ERA) and Los Angeles’ Hyun-Jin Ryu (3.07 ERA).

Darnell McDonald led off the Chicago third against Jeff Locke with a ground-rule double that bounced over the center-field fence. Two outs later, he scored on Starlin Castro’s single. That was it.

The Pirates answered in the fourth. With one out, Jordy Mercer singled for the first hit off Rusin, and reached third on McCutchen’s double that bounced off the third-base bag.

“The baseball Gods got me that time,” Rusin said of McCutchen’s lucky hit.

Rusin got Justin Morneau to hit a comebacker and he threw home to snag Mercer for the second out. But McCutchen scored on Byrd’s single to center to tie the game, and Alvarez followed with a RBI single.

The way the Pirates have been playing, you can only hope to contain them.

“For the most part, you’re keeping their slugging percentage down,” Sveum said. “You don’t walk anybody and you’ve got a chance to get out of innings, you can keep the game close, and that’s what we did.”

The runs off Rusin were the first he’s given up after 22 1/3 scoreless innings on the road, the longest streak by a Cubs rookie lefty away from home in franchise history. Rusin’s streak was also the longest in baseball since Neal Heaton’s 23-inning scoreless stretch on the road for the Indians from Aug. 9-29, 1983, his rookie season.

While the Pirates are trying to figure out who they’ll play in the postseason, the Cubs are looking ahead to next year. Will Rusin be in the 2014 rotation?

“We’ll cross those bridges when we get to it,” Sveum said. “He’s definitely put himself in a position to have every opportunity to make the rotation.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/8 Cubs notebook

* Right-hander Daniel Bard, whom the Cubs claimed off waivers from the Red Sox, threw a second bullpen on Sunday. There is no timetable for him to get into a game, and he may not in the Cubs’ remaining 20 games.

“It’d be nice to see but it’s his timetable and we’ll evaluate and we’ll find out how he’s doing and how he’s feeling,” Sveum said.

Bard was sidelined most of the season with a strained abdominal muscle, and struggled with his consistency.

* Darwin Barney got a rare day off Sunday.

“His numbers against [Yovani] Gallardo aren’t staggering, so I figured it’d be a good day to give him a day going into the long road trip,” Sveum said. “We’ll get [Donnie] Murphy’s bat in there as well as [Luis] Valbuena’s left-handed bat.”

* The Cubs have a tough trip ahead as the Reds and Pirates are battling for position in the playoffs.

“You never want to be a spoiler, and not that there’s really any spoiling going on,” Sveum said since the Reds and Pirates appear set for posteason baseball. “Cincinnati is getting hot, and they’ve put themselves in the division race as well. It’ll be fun, the atmosphere in Pittsburgh as well as Cincinnati. You’re getting in that playoff type atmosphere when you’re trying to win a division, and later, it’ll be the same when we get to St. Louis. It’s good for everybody to see that and play in those atmospheres. It’s different.”

* The Cubs are one win away from matching their win total last year.

“Obviously, the difference between this year and last year is coming down the stretch, we have a lot better pitching going out there every day,” Sveum said. “Our starting pitching has been pretty good. There’s satisfaction but we’re still a long way away from where we want to be.”

— Carrie Muskat

9/4 Extra bases

* Dale Sveum played for the Pirates from 1996-97 and again in 1999, and he knows all about the losing seasons in Pittsburgh. On Tuesday, the Pirates won their 81st game, and are guaranteed their first non-losing season in 21 years.

“It’s obviously been a tough run for them for 20 years,” Sveum said. “I was there for parts of it, and it’s good to see they finally got over that hump, and not only got over the hump, but there’s an above average chance they’ll be in the playoffs as well. It’s good for the city and the organization. A lot of people have been there for a long time. It’s nice to see that organization turn the corner.”

The Cubs still have seven games against the Pirates with a series in Pittsburgh Sept. 12-15 and at Wrigley Field Sept. 23-25. After Wednesday’s game against the Marlins, the Cubs will play 20 of their final 23 games against National League Central teams.

* The Cubs don’t know who will be their closer in 2014, but Sveum said they may use right-hander Pedro Strop in save situations in the final month of games.

“I don’t think you’ll have any idea at the end of this season about what’s going to happen,” Sveum said of the Cubs’ ‘pen. “So many things go into play there and it’s a long offseason. Certain things come up. There’s no way you can predict or plan what’s going to happen by Spring Training next year.”

The Cubs have used 21 relievers this season, with Chang-Yong Lim and Justin Grimm in the bullpen waiting to make an appearance.

* No decision has been made on the next step for right-hander Scott Baker, who made his final Minor League rehab start on Monday for Class A Kane County. Baker has been rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, which he had in April 2012.

* With right-hander Alberto Cabrera making his season debut and lefty Zac Rosscup making his big league debut, the Cubs have utilized 52 players, one shy of the franchise record 53 who appeared last year. Still looking to make their debuts are Lim, Grimm and catcher J.C. Boscan.

The Cubs have utilized 11 rookies this season, and only four players on the current 25-man roster were on the 2012 Opening Day roster. That list includes Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney, James Russell and Jeff Samardzija.

* On Friday, the Cubs play host to the Brewers for a weekend series. Here are the pitching matchups:

Friday: LHP Chris Rusin (2-3, 2.74) vs. RHP Kyle Lohse (9-8, 3.32)
Saturday: RHP Jake Arrieta (2-1, 3.77) vs. RHP Johnny Hellweg (0-3, 10.97)
Sunday: LHP Travis Wood (8-11, 3.17) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (10-9, 4.31)

— Carrie Muskat