Results tagged ‘ Dale Sveum ’
Cubs manager Dale Sveum was ejected in the sixth inning Friday night for questioning a call by home plate umpire Chris Guccione. With the Brewers leading 4-3 in the sixth and the count 2-2 to Ryan Braun, Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija threw a pitch that Guccione called a ball. Samardzija said something, and catcher Welington Castillo stepped between the umpire and the pitcher. Sveum came out to argue the call and was ejected. The Cubs manager was ejected four times last season, his first at the helm.
The ejection came on the anniversary of one of Sveum’s best games as a player for the Brewers. On April 19, 1987, Easter Sunday, he hit a two-run walkoff home run to lead Milwaukee to a 6-4 win over the Rangers for their 12th straight victory.
– Carrie Muskat
Starlin Castro has the physical tools to be a star shortstop. Now, the Cubs are trying to develop the mental skills. On Friday, Castro and second baseman Darwin Barney did some early work with Cubs infield coach David Bell. The two middle infielders have yet to play in a regular season game because Barney is on the disabled list with a left knee laceration, but he’s expected back Tuesday. Castro made his third error on Thursday in nine games, which led to a Giants’ run. The Cubs now lead the Major Leagues with 10 errors.
“These errors aren’t because of physical ability,” Dale Sveum said of all the miscues, not just Castro’s. “It’s awareness and understanding the situation and who’s running. I think we’ve made half our errors on pure non-awareness of how much time we had to make a play or a throw.”
Physically, Castro has the talent. How do you improve the mental part of the game?
“That’s the million dollar question about slowing the game down,” Sveum said. “When we say ‘slow the game down,’ it doesn’t mean make the ball go slower or the pitch go slower. It’s how can you in your mind — before a ball is hit to you, before you step in the batter’s box — how you can go over the situations in your head before the ball is hit to you?
“Those are the things, whether you’re base running or hitting or fielding or pitching, how do you slow the game down in your mind and go over all the scenarios that can happen in your area,” Sveum said.
– Carrie Muskat
Steve Clevenger was a middle infielder before he was converted to catcher in the Cubs’ Minor League system, but on Friday, he was back at third base. Clevenger got the start against the Giants’ Matt Cain as the Cubs tried to overload the lineup with left-handed hitters.
“I got my ground balls in,” Clevenger said. “I feel very comfortable over there. I played infield when I was first drafted. It’s nothing new to me, just getting the reps.”
He did play infield this spring than in the past. Last year, Clevenger won a spot on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster as a backup catcher.
“It’s just a reaction position at third,” he said. “It’s basically catch it and throw it.”
He’s also prepared as far as equipment.
“I always keep my infielder’s glove broken in,” he said.
“If he’s going to be here, he has to play,” manager Dale Sveum said of Clevenger, who is the third catcher on the Cubs’ roster. “It’s time to get him in the lineup against Cain and see what happens.”
Third baseman Ian Stewart, on the disabled list with a strained left quad, has been rehabbing at extended Spring Training, and played four innings on Thursday, hitting a couple doubles. Sveum said he expected Stewart would begin a Minor League rehab assignment soon.
– Carrie Muskat
* Cubs manager Dale Sveum has figured out a way to deal with the cold weather at Wrigley Field. He wears a battery-operated heated vest. It’s getting lots of use lately.
“You do have to manage according to the weather and you know that with these kind of games, wind blowing in and all that, they’ll be low scoring, and you have to manufacture runs somehow and do things that way because your fly balls won’t be home runs,” Sveum said Thursday.
Wednesday’s game against the Brewers was postponed because of rain and cold temperatures, and snow was in the forecast for Friday’s game against the Giants. Thursday’s high was forecast for the 40s at Wrigley Field. Can the Cubs use the weather to their advantage?
“No,” Anthony Rizzo said. “There’s no advantage in this weather for either team. You’ve got to try to get ahead early and hope the other team shuts it down. The other night, we could’ve easily shut it down with the wind and the wind chill. It was a big win the other night.”
Sveum did have an additional heater installed in the Cubs dugout to make it more tolerable.
“You just try to stay warm and then go hit,” Rizzo said. “You let your adrenaline take over.”
* Second baseman Darwin Barney will get the stitches out of his left knee on Friday, and begin a rehab assignment on Saturday with Triple-A Iowa. Barney suffered a knee laceration on March 30 in the last exhibition game when he slid into the right field wall at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Barney has been able to take batting practice and grounders. The Iowa Cubs play their first home game Friday against Albuquerque, and Barney was expected to play Saturday through Monday, and rejoin the Cubs on Tuesday.
* Police are investigating who dropped off a goat head at Wrigley Field on Wednesday. The package was addressed to Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, but intercepted before he got it.
“It’s just obviously an unfortunate fan doing something pretty stupid,” Sveum said.
Said Anthony Rizzo: “That’s probably just an upset fan or a fan of another team. My opinion is it’s just dumb, but it is what it is. It’s kind of funny.”
A curse was supposedly placed on the Cubs in 1945 when the team would not allow Billy Sianis to bring his goat to a game at Wrigley Field. The Cubs have not won a National League pennant or gotten to the World Series since.
– Carrie Muskat
* Theo Epstein fully supported Dale Sveum’s decision to change closers and switch to Kyuji Fujikawa in place of Carlos Marmol.
“I think he made the right call,” Epstein said. “Marmol bounced back last year to have a really solid second half. Of course, he should’ve started this year as our closer. You don’t lose your job after two bad outings at the end of Spring Training. To do that would be counter to everything we believe in. He pitched really poorly three times to start the year,” Epstein said. “It was important for the team to make a change. We need to believe we can win these close games late. For Marmol, last year, he went back after struggling, fixed himself and came back and contributed. We need to be open to that possibility again.”
Sveum said they want Marmol to work on his pitch selection, and not get “fastball happy.”
* Darwin Barney has been cleared to do all baseball activities, but won’t get the stitches removed from his left knee until later this week. Barney, on the disabled list with a knee laceration suffered March 30 in the last exhibition game, was able to participate in all drills in batting practice. If all goes well, Barney will begin a rehab assignment this weekend at one of the Minor League teams, and then could be activated April 16.
* Matt Garza, who threw 35 pitches in his second bullpen on Sunday in Atlanta, will throw a couple more bullpen sessions and then was expected to begin a Minor League rehab assignment. Garza has been sidelined since Feb. 17 with a strained left lat. He’s hoping to return in May.
* Last season, Cubs fans had to deal with a 101-loss season. Most understood the growing pains of the team’s rebuilding process. Does Sveum expect fans to be patient this year?
“You can only have so much patience,” Sveum said. “Obviously, they were great to us in hard times last year and understanding the process in the organization. There’s only so much you can take, especially when you have some of the best fans in the country and passionate. It’s not just Chicago — we have a following throughout the whole country. The patience has to give way sometimes — that’s just the nature of the beast.”
There’s no truth to the rumor that Epstein’s hair turned gray since he took over as Cubs president of baseball operations.
“Ten years in Boston will do that to you,” Epstein said of the flecks of gray. “Lots of blown saves. I remember my first road trip with the Red Sox, we opened on the road in ’03, we blew a save Opening Day, blew another one in Toronto, blew another one in Baltimore. They might have sprouted back then. It’s not a new development.”
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs play their home opener Monday when they entertain the Brewers. This could be the last home opener before Wrigley Field goes through its million dollar makeover.
The Cubs have outlined a five-year, $300 million renovation plan expected to begin after this season.
“It’ll turn into, obviously, one of the top venues in the league to play,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of the ballpark, which turns 100 years old next year. “Us, getting a new clubhouse and the batting cages and a new dugout and, if the jumbotron [scoreboard] does come into play, now you’re turning this place into an unbelievable place to go to work every day for all of us.”
The Cubs will finally be able to “keep up with the Joneses,” Sveum said. All of the National League Central teams have gotten new stadiums in the last 12 years.
The work was supposed to begin with the home clubhouse and batting cages.
“As far as the last conversation I had a few months ago, it was going to be ready for Opening Day next year,” Sveum said. “To start digging that much, hopefully there’s nothing in the way, because I think they probably have to work 24/7 to get it done by Opening Day  once the last pitch is thrown this year.”
Are there any aspects of Wrigley that he’ll miss?
“The clubhouse? The batting cages? No, I don’t think anybody can say they’ll miss any of that,” Sveum said.
Still to be determined is whether the Cubs can play more than 30 night games.
“You don’t want to lose that aura about what we have at Wrigley, playing the day games,” Sveum said. “When we get back off road games and things like that, it comes in handy to have a night game.”
– Carrie Muskat
Last May, Cubs manager Dale Sveum removed Carlos Marmol as the closer, and used James Russell and Rafael Dolis. The Cubs didn’t have that many save opportunities, and Marmol then went on the disabled list May 12 with a strained hamstring. He was reinstated as the closer when he returned in late May but the Cubs told Marmol he could not shake off his catcher. It seemed to work. After compiling a 5.61 ERA in 31 games before the All-Star break last year, Marmol had a 1.52 ERA in 30 games in the second half.
In his three appearances this season, it’s been a struggle for Marmol. He’s retired four of the 13 batters he’s faced in three games. Teams are batting .600 against him, and he’s given up five runs on six hits in 10 at-bats, including the two home runs. Right-handed hitters are 5-for-5 with two walks. Marmol also has shown a pattern that scouts are probably picking up. He throws first-pitch fastballs to batters 80 percent of the time, and when he’s ahead in the count, he’ll go to his slider 75 percent of the time. If he has two strikes, he’ll also throw his slider 90.9 percent.
What are Sveum’s options? Shawn Camp is 12-for-28 in his career in save situations. He had two saves in 2012, his last one coming Aug. 26 against the Rockies in a 5-0 win.
Russell is 2-for-9 in career save opportunities, picking up both last season. He was 0-2 in save situations in 2010 and again in 2011.
By the way, this is the last year of Marmol’s three-year, $20 million contract that will pay him $9.8 million this season.
* About last night: According to Elias Sports Bureau, Justin and B.J. Upton are the first brothers in Major League history to hit a game-tying and walk-off home run in the same inning. The two brothers connected off Marmol in the ninth to give the Braves a 6-5 win over the Cubs. The Uptons are the first brothers to hit a home run in the same inning since Cal and Billy Ripken did so in 1996 with the Orioles.
“That’s what you dream about — to be on the field and have that big at-bat and to come through for your team,” Justin said. “You can’t beat that.”
– Carrie Muskat
* Friday’s game marked the start of a stretch of 19 in a row for the Cubs against teams that finished .500 or above last year. Thirteen of those games are against teams that reached the playoffs, beginning with the Braves. It’s going to be challenging.
“That was last year playoff teams,” Cubs pitcher Matt Garza said. “Things change.”
* Cubs manager Dale Sveum cringed when he saw the replay of Louisville guard Kevin Ware breaking his leg during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. In 1988, Sveum’s career changed after a freak collision with Brewers teammate Darryl Hamilton. Sveum was playing shortstop and chased a pop fly down the third base line, crashing into Hamilton, who was playing left. Sveum broke his left leg, which had to be refractured a year later because it didn’t heal properly. Seeing Ware go down brought back lots of memories for Sveum.
“I felt horrible about it,” Sveum said of Ware, who was expected in Atlanta with his Louisville teammates for the Final Four. “I went through the same thing. It was kind of a freak accident. His was even stranger to come down and do something like that in such a horrific way. It makes you nauseated, that’s for sure. It was one of the more horrible injuries, if not the most horrible injury, we were able to see and witness. Hopefully, he can come back. I don’t know if he can come back from something like that. That was eye opening to day the least.”
Sveum recalled his injury immediately.
“It’s a flashback knowing exactly how much pain you’re in when something like that happens,” he said. “You basically kind of go into shock. It’s something you’ll never forget. I flashback every time [Darwin] Barney or [Starlin] Castro go down this line for a pop up.
“It’s such a trauma incident that you’ll never forget it,” Sveum said.
* There were too many ballplayers on the field during the Braves’ batting practice. The Cubs relievers were doing their normal pre-game routine, but they were in left field while the Braves were hitting. Atlanta general manager Frank Wren asked the players to get off the field, but they didn’t.
“[Wren] came in and asked me a favor, if I could keep the guys off the field, because they were trying to do defensive work,” Sveum said. “Realistically, two teams can’t be on the field at the same time but we all know that at the end of [batting practice], everybody always goes and throws and everybody’s work is done by then. The [batting practice] times got all goofed up. That’s part of why that happened.”
The Cubs pitchers were amused that they were being chased off.
* Hall of Famer Ernie Banks will sing the seventh inning stretch Monday at the Cubs’ home opener. Another Cubs Hall of Famer, Fergie Jenkins, will lead the crowd in “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on Tuesday. On Wednesday, members of the 1963 Loyola men’s basketball team, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary of the NCAA championship, will sing, and be followed on Thursday by Blackhawks Hall of Famer goalie Tony Esposito.
* The Braves have done some remodeling in the visitor’s clubhouse. However, they didn’t check the Cubs roster very well. Alberto Gonzalez’s name plate said “Alberto Castillo.”
– Carrie Muskat
Carlos Marmol most likely will keep it interesting in the ninth inning the rest of the season. At least, he listened to his pitching coach. The Pirates had two on and one out in the ninth Thursday, and had closed to within two runs against Marmol, who had been pulled from Monday’s game after failing to convert a save. Chicago pitching coach Chris Bosio then went to the mound. The message?
“Strike him out and get a ground ball,” Marmol said, “and that’s exactly what happened.”
Well, not exactly. Marmol gave up a RBI single to Gaby Sanchez, then struck out Pedro Alvarez and finally got Neil Walker to ground into a game-ending double play as the Cubs held on for a 3-2 victory Thursday, taking the first series of the season.
Said Dale Sveum on Marmol: “He was OK. It didn’t seem that way, but it wasn’t too bad.”
The Cubs didn’t exactly solve their offensive struggles Thursday, but were more efficient. Nate Schierholtz hit a two-run home run with two outs in the ninth and Starlin Castro delivered a two-out RBI single in the third to back Travis Wood, who tossed six scoreless innings.
The Cubs entered the game 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position in their first two games. Castro ended the skid in the third. With two outs and Wood at second after a single and groundout, Castro delivered a RBI single to center off James McDonald (0-1). Schierholtz homered in the ninth off Jared Hughes, and drove in Anthony Rizzo, who had walked and stole second. It was Schierholtz’s first home run since Aug. 1, when he connected off current teammate Edwin Jackson, who was pitching for the Nationals at the time.
With the win, the Cubs claimed their first season-opening series victory since the start of the 2009 season, when they took two of three against the Astros.
“Our goal is to win every game, and win every series,” Schiernholtz said. “It’s a good start.”
– Carrie Muskat
* The Cubs headed into Thursday’s game 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
“We haven’t had real bad at-bats, but we obviously haven’t had the results,” Dale Sveum said. “Your approach is to get elevation with men in scoring position, whether it’s third or whatever, you get something in the air and don’t ground out to the corners. Pitchers are always trying to get you to ground out to the corners. You want to get the ball up, out over the plate.”
* After Thursday, the Cubs begin a stretch of 19 consecutive games against teams that finished above .500 last season.
“We don’t look at it as tough, but a way to show what we’ve got from the beginning,” Chicago pitcher Carlos Villanueva said. “I think it’s better we face those teams and we face good competition early on to test ourselves and see how well we are this year.
“It’s such a long season and we’re not going to think about winning one series or two series — we have to focus on winning ballgames one at a time,” he said. “It’s so cliche, it’s so boring, but it is how it is. For us to be playing tough teams now, the Braves, the Giants, the Brewers, the Reds, it’s good. We get a chance to show what we’ve got early on.”
* Scott Feldman will make his Cubs debut Friday night when the team opens a three-game series against the Braves.
“I’m kind of anxious,” Feldman said Thursday. “Sitting here, watching these games, I want to get that first one under my belt and get off to a good start.”
It’s not only a new team for Feldman, but he’s going to be pitching in ballparks and cities he’s never been in. Atlanta is on that list. The good news is that Feldman has seen the Cubs play some good defense in the first two games.
“You can get some momentum on your side with a good play,” he said. “We had it happen a couple times on Opening Day. Guys back there are pretty solid on ‘D’ so hopefully they’ll keep it going.”
* As far as Sveum is concerned, he’d like to keep the designated hitter in the American League. This year, adding the DH to the National League will likely be discussed as teams play Interleague games every day of the season.
“I enjoy the National League game, and I enjoy managing the National League game,” said Sveum, sticking to tradition.
The Cubs will need a DH May 27-28 against the White Sox, June 4-5 versus the Angels, June 28-29 when they face the Mariners, and July 2-4 versus the Athletics. They have some candidates, including switch-hitter Dioner Navarro, Steve Clevenger and Alfonso Soriano.
Some have said American League teams are at a disadvantage in National League parks because their pitchers haven’t batted as much.
“I think it works both ways,” Sveum said. “We go to an American League park and have to use a DH but we didn’t build our team with a DH. They pay people a lot of money to DH. That’s part of their game. We’re fortunate because our pitchers can swing the bat pretty good and that’s an advantage to us.”
* Matt Garza will join the Cubs Friday in Atlanta and was to begin throwing off the mound. Second baseman Darwin Barney, rehabbing from a laceration in his left knee, is able to swing in the batting cage, but still needs to keep his leg extended.
– Carrie Muskat