Results tagged ‘ Dale Sveum ’
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
The Cubs’ defense was stellar Thursday through seven innings but a brain cramp by catcher Welington Castillo and misplayed fly ball hurt Travis Wood. The Padres scored four runs in the eighth, including the tying run on a passed ball by Castillo, to rally for a 4-2 victory against the Cubs and Wood, who deserved better.
Jesus Guzman singled to lead off the Padres eighth, Kyle Blanks walked, and two outs later, pinch-hitter Yonder Alonso delivered a bloop RBI single that fell between Julio Borbon and Darwin Barney in shallow right field. The wind made it a tough play for Borbon, relatively new to Wrigley Field’s quirkiness.
“When I realized I could’ve caught it, I started calling [Barney] off and I don’t think he — I talked to him about it and he said he didn’t see it until the last minute and that’s why he didn’t get out of the way,” Borbon said. “I was running in hard saw him out of the corner of my eye.”
Borbon said it was a ball he should’ve caught.
“That extra second of maybe Barney recognizing it and calling me off, or me getting out of the way — I felt the speed I was going in at, I would’ve been able to catch it if I hadn’t seen him at the last second,” Borbon said. “He said if he had picked up the ball a tenth of a second earlier, he would’ve been able to call me off and I’m veering off to the side. I looked at the replay, and as I’m approaching him, he had to literally dive away to get out of the way.”
The two did avoid a collision but nobody caught the ball. Wood then exited, and Shawn Camp’s offering got away from Castillo during Chris Denorfia’s at-bat. The catcher didn’t seem aware Blanks was headed home from third as he collected the ball behind home plate. Blanks scored the tying run.
“I think [Castillo] thought [Blanks] was running and was just going to walk home and he took it for granted,” Dale Sveum said. “[Blanks] didn’t take off and ‘Welly’ took it for granted he was going to walk home and was going automatically, and obviously didn’t go after the ball.”
Blanks hesitated because he thought the ball had kicked back to Castillo off the brick wall.
“As soon as he kind of tailed after it, I just took off,” Blanks said. “I figured he’s taking his time, it’s as good a time as any to at least make an attempt. But the kick, I thought it was coming back to him, then as soon as it got away, I just took off.”
Camp walked Denorfia, and James Russell entered. Everth Cabrera greeted him with a go-ahead RBI single to take a 3-2 lead. Chase Headley followed with another RBI single that rolled just past Barney at second base.
Castillo shouldered the blame for the mental mistake.
“I want to apologize to my teammates,” Castillo said. “I feel like I lost the game. I’m the one who has to keep everybody on the game, and I just got out of the game.”
Anthony Rizzo made an amazing catch, grabbing Headley’s popup in foul territory as he dove over the rolled-up tarp. Rizzo ended up between the tarp and the brick wall, and held onto the ball. Borbon tumbled over the bullpen mound after catching Nick Hundley’s fly ball against the wall in the eighth. Shortstop Starlin Castro added to his highlight reel of great plays.
“It was a shame — we had two defensive plays that were the difference in the ballgame,” Sveum said. “It’s unfortunate. It was a really well-played game other than a pop-up that caused it. We had a chance to make a pitch and get out of all that, and couldn’t do it again. When we make a mistake, we don’t seem to be able to make a pitch to get the next guy out.”
– Carrie Muskat
There’s nothing wrong with Wrigley Field, Dale Sveum said. It just needs a little upgrading and the support from the city and community to do that through the proposed $300 million renovation plan. The Cubs submitted their proposed changes to the 99-year-old ballpark and the neighborhood to the city plan commission on Wednesday, and must now wait for final approval. If rejected, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said the team would have to consider other options, such as moving out of Wrigley.
“I think it’s hard for everyone to envision,” Theo Epstein said of the possibility of the Cubs leaving the neighborhood ballpark. “Everyone’s on record as saying their goal is to stay here and win here. Tom’s answer to that question today really underscored the importance of the project and the importance of the revenue to our vision of building a sustainable winner in a big market and behaving the way a big market should.”
Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer told players they could expect a new clubhouse by Opening Day 2014. If the renovations are not improved in time to begin work this offseason, that could be delayed until 2015.
“At this point, it depends on how long the public approval process takes,” Epstein said. “If it drags on too long, it’s going to be unrealistic to get it done this winter and then we’re probably looking at Opening Day 2015 for the renovated clubhouse. … We’re all hoping, for a lot of reasons, and not just the revenue, that we can get this moving sooner rather than later.”
The Cubs players want to see Wrigley upgraded, not abandoned.
“I know Mr. Ricketts wants to win and he’s building a winning environment here,” Anthony Rizzo said. “He’s going to do whatever it takes to get what needs to be done done. If it takes moving — I know he wants to bring a championship here, whether it’s at Wrigley or not. We all want to be at Wrigley. These renovations, I think they need to get done, to be honest, to make everything more modernized.”
– Carrie Muskat
It’s been a tough month for Edwin Jackson. Nick Hundley smacked a three-run home run, Yonder Alonso belted a two-run shot, and Carlos Quentin drove in three runs to lift the Padres to a 13-7 victory Tuesday night over Jackson and the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The crowd of 31,303 at Wrigley Field wasn’t happy with Jackson’s abbreviated outing and let him know.
“It’s not the first time I’ve heard it,” Jackson said. “It’s the same crowd that if you go out and start pitching better, they’re cheering. The boos — I’d probably boo myself as well. I don’t blame them.”
Starting pitching has been the constant in the first month for the Cubs. They entered Monday’s game with a 3.21 ERA and 15 quality starts. However, Jackson has struggled with one bad inning in each of his starts. This time, he couldn’t locate his fastball.
“He didn’t make a lot of quality pitches when he had to,” Dale Sveum said of Jackson. “We have to keep plugging away with him and get this straightened out. It’s just a month into the season. Mechanical or whatever it is, we’re letting games slide by with one inning or one pitch here or there. He’s got it in him — the stuff and everything is there. We just have to get it out of him.”
Jackson can’t wait to turn the calendar.
“Overall, it’s been a pretty disappointing month from my standpoint for myself, for the team, for the organization and for the fans,” Jackson said. “It’s a test of character. It’s one of those times when you can either crumble and fold or fight and bounce back. I definitely haven’t been one to be known to fold. It’s just a matter of getting back on track and throwing the ball like I know how to throw the ball.”
How bad is it?
“This may be one of the worst starts I’ve had in my career,” Jackson said of his first season with the Cubs. “It’s a test of character. Clearly, it hasn’t been what I wanted to do. It’s a long season. I’ll definitely continue to work and get back to where I need to be to finish the season strong.”
Luis Valbuena and Starlin Castro each hit two-run home runs, David DeJesus added a solo shot — after replay — and Cody Ransom homered for the Cubs, who finished April with 35 home runs, the third-most in the first month of the season in the history of the franchise.
Jackson lasted 4 2/3 innings, his shortest outing in six starts. He served up 11 hits, the most off him since Aug. 3, 2011, when he gave up 14 to the Brewers over seven innings. The right-hander, who signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Cubs this offseason, now has a 6.27 ERA.
“It’s just a matter of getting back to me,” Jackson said. “I have to get back to throwing the ball like I throw the ball and let everything else go out the window, whether it’s one thing or another. It’s just one of those things you have to get out there and do it. I haven’t lost any confidence, I don’t doubt myself. I’m just not getting it done. I just have to go out and get it done.”
He said the contract, his first long-term deal, isn’t the problem.
“I don’t feel like it’s pressure,” Jackson said. “I feel like I’m just not pitching like I know I can pitch, whether it’s execution of pitches, or making people hit the ball where there are fielders. It’s been one thing or another. It hasn’t been one particular thing.”
– Carrie Muskat
* The Cubs have had 12 players hit at least one home run so far this season, the most among National League teams and tied for second-most in the Major Leagues with the Indians and Rays. Alfonso Soriano is one of the dozen players, but the Cubs had hoped he’d have more than one home run at this point.
“Last year, he was a victim of the wind blowing in every single day at home,” manager Dale Sveum said. “This year, you can’t say that. He’s swung the bat really well off lefties. Hopefully last night, hitting off that tough righty [the Padres' Brad Brach], that double, that was his best swing off a righty all year. Hopefully that can catapult him.”
Soriano last homered on April 18; in 2012, he didn’t connect until May 15. In April 2011, he set a club record with 10 homers in April. Sveum expects Soriano, 37, to deliver.
“That media guide doesn’t lie when you have 600 plate appearances at the end of the year,” Sveum said.
* Ian Stewart, on a Minor League rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa, was 4-for-40 in 12 games.
“He’s got to start swinging the bat better, have more consistent at-bats,” Sveum said of the third baseman. “We’ll wait and see.”
Major League players are limited to 20 days per rehab assignment. Stewart’s time expires on Friday.
“Right this second, I don’t think I’m ready,” Stewart told the Des Moines Register on Tuesday. “That’s just me being honest and knowing myself as a player.”
* The Cubs still don’t have a designated closer and Sveum said Tuesday they’ll probably stick to the closer by committee approach when Kyuji Fujikawa returns from the disabled list. Fujikawa, sidelined with a strained right forearm, was to throw a bullpen on Thursday, and if all goes well, he would make a rehab outing Sunday for Triple-A Iowa.
On Monday, Kevin Gregg picked up his fourth save of the season. The Cubs have three pitchers with multiple saves so far, the first time that’s happened in the first month in franchise history since the save became an official stat in 1969. Besides Gregg (four), Fujikawa has two and Carlos Marmol has two. Sveum said he’ll base his decision in save situations on matchups.
“I got [a closer],” Sveum said. “I just don’t know who it’s going to be every night.”
* Looking ahead, Scott Feldman will face former Cub Andrew Cashner on Wednesday, and Travis Wood will close the series Thursday against the Padres’ Eric Stults.
– Carrie Muskat
Heading into Tuesday’s game, all 25 of the Cubs games this season have been decided by four runs or less, a franchise record, and second most all-time in the Major Leagues. The 1914 Tigers have the longest streak to start the season at 33 games. Some key hits, better defense, and the Cubs could be 15-10, not 10-15.
“We know what our starting pitching can be every night,” Dale Sveum said. “If we can go through a stretch in the next 25 games with our starting pitching be as good as they have been in the first 25 games, then you know you’ll be in games and if our offense heats up and we start getting more timely hitting and we start busting some games open, you win some of those [close] games.
“The biggest thing right now why we’re 10-15 and not 15-10 is just timely hitting,” Sveum said. “Twenty-five games in a row have been decided by four runs or less. You get a little more timely hitting and you hit .250 instead of .150, that’s a lot of runs in 25 games.”
The Cubs were batting .157 with runners in scoring position, lowest in the Majors.
– Carrie Muskat
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said he and Theo Epstein share in the team’s poor start, and Hoyer made a trip to Cincinnati to give manager Dale Sveum a vote of confidence. Hoyer said Sveum, now in his second season at the helm, has their “full support” and the 5-13 start is not because of the Cubs manager.
“We’re all in this together,” Hoyer said Tuesday. “We’ve struggled, it’s been painful to watch because we keep on squandering leads. That’s on Theo and that’s on me. We have to figure out ways to get better. We’re not the most talented team in the league right now. We’re trying to build to get there but as we get there, we can’t continue to make the kind of mistakes we’ve been making. We have to clean it up and get better. Dale has our complete support. That’s not what he should be thinking about in the least.”
The Cubs rank among the NL leaders in errors and have the worst batting average with runners in scoring position. The miscues were evident during the Brewers’ weekend three-game sweep when the Cubs out-hit them, 22-16. Sveum said they would find other options if players didn’t perform.
“The point Dale is trying to make, and I support him 100 percent, is that at some point there has to be accountability,” Hoyer said. “If that means benching a guy or reducing his playing time, disciplining him in some ways, at some point, [Sveum] has to be able to pull the strings he has to pull to manage the team successfully and obviously, he has our total support to do that. He’s got a great feel for the clubhouse, players respect him, and if he needs to do something to emphasize his point, then he has to do that.”
The Cubs have wasted solid pitching. The starters have a 3.11 ERA combined, third best in the National League. But the Cubs have been able to drive in just eight of the 28 players on third with less than two outs. The Major League average is 52 percent. The team isn’t doing the little things, such as advancing runners.
“Our starting pitching has been real good and if you had told me we were going to hit the number of home runs we have and have the kind of starting pitching we have, we should have a much better record,” Hoyer said. “We should have a much better record regardless.”
Hoyer and Epstein have communicated with Sveum a lot over the last few days, but the general manager felt he needed to meet with the manager and the team face to face.
“We know how hard he’s working and we’re having a lot of sleepless nights as we go through it, and we know he is as well,” Hoyer said. “We’re in this together. The front office doesn’t watch the games and think things are happening on the field that shouldn’t be. We’re in this together. We have to figure out how to play smarter baseball, whether that means making personnel changes, whether that means tightening up the players we have here, it goes without saying that we have to do better.”
What the Cubs front office is looking for is progress.
“The biggest thing for us, and this is Theo, me and everyone, we have to keep getting better,” Hoyer said. “I think we have a better team this year than last year. We haven’t played that way yet. We’re building toward something.”
He said the Reds are a good example of a team that is relying primarily on homegrown talent. That’s what the Cubs want to do.
“You want to see progress,” Hoyer said. “It’s a black and white business — our report card is in the paper every day, and you have to look at it that way. Wins and losses, that’s how we’re measured. … I think that’s part of why all of us are frustrated. We have played better than our record so far. As Bill Parcells said, ‘You are what you are,’ and we are 5-13, you can’t deny that. Feeling we played better doesn’t mean anything. We have to be better at converting these games to wins.”
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs’ slow start certainly bothers manager Dale Sveum. Does he think about his job security?
“I’d be lying if I didn’t think about [myself] through some of this stuff,” Sveum said Monday. “That’s stuff you don’t have control over. I have control over my job and my coaching staff to prepare everybody every day, and that’s all I can do.”
In his second season at the helm, Sveum said he has full support from GM Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations.
On Sunday, Sveum said no one on the team was “invincible” and that the Cubs would find “options” if needed. On Monday, he said he wasn’t charging Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo with responsibility for all the mistakes.
“You guys asked me,” he said of the media’s questions. “Those guys couldn’t get sent down, and I said nobody’s exempt. They’re not the only ones [making mistakes].”
And everyone has had a part in the 5-12 start.
“Like I said, nobody’s exempt,” Sveum said. “Pointing [Castro and Rizzo] out, it doesn’t mean they’re it. … I’m not pointing fingers at them or anything, I’m just saying, hey, we’re all [accountable] in this. I’m [not] exempt [from] being fired, so is my coaching staff. We’re all in this together as a team. As coaches, manager, we try to get people better on the team.”
– Carrie Muskat
The errors and the losses keep adding up for the Cubs, and may lead to some changes on the roster. Ryan Braun smacked a three-run home run to lift the Brewers to a 4-2 victory Sunday and complete a sweep over the mistake-prone Cubs, who committed two more miscues.
“You out-hit a team every day and you lose,” Dale Sveum said. “It doesn’t happen very often.”
The Cubs did just that, out-hitting the Brewers, 22-16, in the series, including a two-run homer by Anthony Rizzo in the third to back Scott Feldman. But Feldman also made a critical error, which led to Braun’s home run. The Cubs rank second in the Major Leagues with 17 errors, trailing the Nationals, who have committed 18.
“We keep shooting ourselves in the foot and that’s something we can’t do — I don’t think we’re good enough to be doing that,” Rizzo said of the poor defensive play. “We need to play good baseball. That’s the game of baseball, though — guys are going to make errors, and it’s not going to be the last error we make today, we’re going to make plenty more but we’re going to make plenty more good plays, too.”
In the Milwaukee fifth, Yuniesky Betancourt doubled off David DeJesus’ glove as he tried to make a leaping catch at the center-field wall. Two outs later, Jean Segura hit a comebacker to Feldman, who couldn’t get his glove on the ball for an error. Braun then followed with his home run.
“This is one of those games that falls squarely on me,” Feldman said. “If I make that play [on Segura], we’re up 2-1, and my pitch count is down. It’s just a shame I didn’t make the play. … It’s like a Little League play.”
Unfortunately, it’s not the first time the Cubs have made an error that led to a run and a loss. The Cubs were 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position, charged with six errors in the series, and now have given up 14 unearned runs over 17 games.
“Going into a season, I don’t care if you’re the best team in baseball, you’re going to have a week to 10 days that you play [sloppy] baseball,” Sveum said. “That’s a given going in. Obviously, good teams have really good streaks and long streaks. Hopefully, we’re getting this out of our system. We know this team is a lot better than we’ve played.”
The mistakes have forced Cubs starters to work even harder, dealing with the extra outs. Chicago starters have ranked among the top in the National League this season, and their combined ERA actually dropped to 3.13 after Feldman’s outing. He has failed to post a quality start in his three outings.
Before the game, Sveum said the Cubs would look for other options if play didn’t improve. It would seem that players like Castro and Rizzo were set, but Sveum didn’t exclude them.
“You have to perform,” Sveum said. “The bottom line is you have to perform.”
“You can’t think about that,” Rizzo said about the possibility of being sent down. “Everyone in here is in the big leagues and everyone wants to be in the big leagues, no one wants to go to the Minor Leagues. Whatever happens, happens.
“This team is going to have a lot more transactions throughout the year,” Rizzo said. “Guys are going to come and go, that’s part of the game. You can’t worry about getting sent down — I’ve done it before and it never works out when you think about that. You just have to go out and play.”
Castro, whose error in the fifth Saturday led to two Brewers runs, did talk to Sveum in Chicago.
“I feel bad,” Castro said of his mistakes. “Those errors make the team lose. That’s why the team is losing now because of the errors. We have to keep it together, work hard and it’s going to be all right.
“The talent is here,” Castro said. “The only thing is the whole team is trying to do too much because everybody feels bad about the way the team is playing now. That’s why everybody is trying to do too much.”
Players aren’t hiding from the mistakes.
“It’s frustrating,” Rizzo said, “but everyone is competitive and that’s why I think it’s so frustrating. We’re young and we want to win and we’re hungry to win and we just have to keep fighting and keep believing in ourselves and each other and keep the line moving when we’re at the plate and don’t try to hit a five-run home run when you just have to get the next guy up.”
– Carrie Muskat