Results tagged ‘ Starlin Castro ’
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
The hits keep coming for shortstop Starlin Castro, who singled to center with two outs in the third inning Sunday to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, the longest active streak in the National League. Castro now has eight hitting streaks of 10 or more games since the start of the 2011 season, tied with the Yankees’ Robinson Cano for the most during that stretch.
– Carrie Muskat
Manager Dale Sveum is losing patience with the way the Cubs have played recently, and the players can understand that.
“I think everyone is losing a little patience,” Anthony Rizzo said Sunday. “Everyone needs to have fun. That’s the main thing — have fun and everything will take care of itself.”
The Cubs headed into Sunday’s series finale against the Brewers having won three of the last 13 games. They are among the Major League leaders in errors, adding three more Saturday in a 5-1 loss, and also have the lowest batting average in the Majors with runners in scoring position. They’re wasting solid starting pitching. Chicago’s starters have a 3.19 ERA, fifth-lowest in the National League.
The errors are both physical and mental, and are a surprise after how well the Cubs played in Spring Training, Sveum said.
“Some of these errors, they look physical but they’re maybe a lack of awareness at the time or the situation at hand or they’re trying to be too quick, or sometimes we don’t have enough aggressiveness on balls or whatever it is,” said Sveum, whose voice was hoarse after his argument with an umpire Friday that resulted in being ejected. “Sometimes defense is a rhythm and we’re obviously not in any kind of defensive rhythm. Just like offense can be contagious, defense can, too.
“From top to bottom, we did outstanding in Spring Training, so to start out like this is obviously disappointing,” Sveum said. “The bad thing is we’re not picking each other up after these things happen.”
“We’re not overcoming our mistakes,” Sveum said. “Good teams overcome those mistakes. A guy gets a ground ball double play and nobody thinks about what just happened.”
Rizzo was charged with an error Friday and bobbled a ball on Saturday.
“We’ve got to make those plays and I think people are maybe putting too much pressure on themselves to make the plays,” Rizzo said. “It’s a long season and we need to start having more fun. Everyone says we’re young — let’s play and have fun like we’re young, too. Take it one pitch at a time.”
Sveum said they can make changes if players don’t perform.
“You find options,” he said. “If people keep playing like that, you have to find options and give people playing time in Triple-A to figure this stuff out.”
He’s looking for more consistency, game-changing plays, and better performance on the field.
“You have to perform,” Sveum said. “The bottom line is you have to perform. Whether they need more development, you decide all those kind of things.”
And no one, he said, is invincible.
“It’s not about what we think can happen in three, four years from now,” Sveum said. “Guys who have played a lot of baseball, it’s time to perform on a consistent basis. Not a good game, and then three bad ones, that’s not what we want. That’s why there is player development. Guys are rushed to the big leagues, and sometimes you see a lot of this stuff happen. That’s why it’s very important to play 500 Minor League games.”
– Carrie Muskat
Dale Sveum has met with the players, they’ve done the drills, they’ve practiced the plays, and they have the talent, which is why Saturday’s game — and this season — is so frustrating. The Brewers took advantage of the Cubs’ sloppy play to post a 5-1 win in front of a sellout crowd of 42,230 at Miller Park in what looked like a repeat of past games this season.
“It seems to be the story every night,” Sveum said. “It seems to be continuing that we can’t seem to catch the ball or make a play when we have to make a play. Edwin [Jackson] pitched a great game, but he was part of that, throwing the ball into center field. We’ve got to step up and somebody has to start making plays and driving runs in because this is obviously getting old.”
Jackson’s throwing error in the sixth led to two of the Brewers’ runs and was one of three miscues by the Cubs in the game. Of the five runs scored, four were unearned.
“I’ve talked,” Sveum said about how he’s dealt with the Cubs. “We’ve been doing this quite a bit. You don’t want to have meetings every night.”
Maybe the problem is youth? Shortstop Starlin Castro committed his fourth error.
“We’re making a lot of the same mistakes,” Sveum said. “Obviously, they’re young but we’re making mistakes that rookie ball people make.”
Jackson (0-3), who signed a four-year, $52 million contract this offseason, took the loss. It’s the first time the right-hander has opened a season winless in his first four starts since 2007 when he went 0-8 with the Rays.
“Everybody knows they can make plays,” Jackson said. “It’s nothing that anyone is panicking over. Clearly, we have to play better and execute better. It’s not an issue that anyone is panicking over. I can’t speak for everyone but nobody is panicking. We just have to make the plays when we have a chance.”
What’s going on?
“I think it’s just a matter of slowing the game down,” Darwin Barney said. “Starting pitching has done such a great job and a lot of the jams they’ve been in have been attributed to miscues. It’s unfortunate. I think a part of it is pressure. I think guys are putting a little too much pressure on themselves and they take that onto the defensive side. As a unit, we need to be better from pitchers to infielders and just all around. It just comes with slowing the game down and being confident and just making the routine plays and keeping them routine.”
Alfonso Soriano also felt the Cubs may be pressing.
“I think we’re better than this,” Soriano said. “I think we’re trying too much. That’s why the team isn’t doing well so far. I think everybody is pushing too much and trying to do too much. We have to come back tomorrow and be relaxed and just let the talent play the game.”
In Spring Training, the Cubs knew they had a rough schedule in the first month and needed to get off to a good start.
“Everybody in this clubhouse, we want to win so bad, we want to show to the other team and the fans that we can do it,” Soriano said. “I think that’s our mentality here. We just have to play the game and have fun and not try to do too much and not worry about making mistakes and play the game.”
The Brewers began the season 2-8, and have won six in a row.
“That’s what drives me crazy, the coaches crazy,” Milwaukee manager Ron Ronicke said. “We try to figure things and how to get the team going and next thing you know they do it themselves. It’s baffling, this game’s very baffling.”
Sveum would like to see the players figure it out. He said he has “options” if the mistakes continue. He admitted to becoming impatient with the poor play.
“To win in the big leagues, you have to have people who perform, and perform 162 games, not once in a while,” Sveum said. “You have to perform. It’s the big leagues. Otherwise, you lose your jobs.”
– Carrie Muskat
Starlin Castro singled with one out in the fourth inning Saturday to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. That’s the longest active streak in the National League. He now has eight hitting streaks of 10 or more games since the start of the 2011 season, tied with the Yankees’ Robinson Cano. Since he made his big league debut on May 7, 2010, Castro has totaled 550 hits, the most in the NL in that span. Ryan Braun entered Saturday’s game second with 537 hits.
* Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak to six games with his home run in the fifth. He now has four multi-hit games in that stretch.
* Dioner Navarro led off the ninth with a pinch-hit home run off Sergio Romo. It was Navarro’s first career pinch-homer and first by a Cubs player this year.
* David DeJesus notched his second three-hit game of the season, and has nine hits in his last five games.
* Carlos Villanueva has left with the lead in both of his starts, but does not have a decision yet.
* Despite blowing the save, Kyuji Fujikawa picked up his first Major League win Friday, and also got a celebratory beer shower.
* On Saturday, Jeff Samardzija will start in Game 3 of the Cubs’ four-game series against the Giants, facing lefty Madison Bumgarner. First pitch scheduled for 12:05 p.m. CT.
– Carrie Muskat
What is it about those last three outs? Carlos Villanueva may want to take Kyuji Fujikawa, Carlos Marmol and the rest of the Cubs bullpen out to dinner. Perhaps if Villanueva butters them up, he’ll get a win. For the second straight start, Villanueva missed a potential “W” because the bullpen imploded. But the Cubs rallied this time as pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro hit a game-tying home run leading off the ninth and Starlin Castro smacked a walk-off RBI double to score David DeJesus from first and lift the Cubs to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Giants.
“I’m happy just getting the [team] ‘W,’” Villanueva said. “The atmosphere in our clubhouse right now, I wouldn’t change that for the world.”
The right-hander shut down the Giants for 7 1/3 innings, but they took a 3-2 lead in the ninth against Fujikawa on an RBI single by Pablo Sandoval and a two-run double by Brandon Belt. It was Fujikawa’s second save situation since taking over the closer’s duties from Marmol, and he’s now 1-for-2.
“[It was his] command again,” manager Dale Sveum said of Fujikawa. “He’s not getting the swings and misses with his split. I thought he threw some good splits and they were laying off of them. The command and life of the fastball wasn’t there again. He couldn’t get strike one.”
Said Fujikawa: “As you can see, [my command] wasn’t too good.”
The Cubs rallied in the ninth against Giants star closer Sergio Romo. What is it about the ninth inning?
“Guys lock in,” DeJesus said. “Those are the situations where you want to shine your best. That’s why that closer role is such an important job and it’s a tough job because these guys are going up there with the purpose of trying to win the ballgame.”
Last Saturday, Marmol served up game-tying and walk-off home runs to the Upton brothers in Atlanta and lost his job as the Cubs closer. Now, Fujikawa struggled.
“I told Ryo [Shinkawa], his interpreter, to tell him that I believe in him, and we believe in him and he’ll be fine,” Villanueva said. “[Fujikawa] is very apologetic and he feels bad, and we can tell. We need him, and as long as we communicate that to him, times when things aren’t going well, that’s why we’re teammates and we’re a team. We love ‘Fuji’ and we know he’ll do well.”
– 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
The Cubs left Arizona just two weeks ago, and it seems as if they’ve forgotten some of the defensive drills they did in the desert. The Giants took advantage of a sloppy fourth inning Thursday to rally from a five-run deficit and post a 7-6 victory. Pablo Sandoval hit a two-run double and Angel Pagan drove in two runs, including a tie-breaking sac fly in the fifth, for San Francisco.
“You spend hours and hours on [defense] for 45 days of Spring Training and to have the lapses in the games when it counts, it costs you games, it costs you pitches, it costs you not being able to go five innings,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
The Cubs opened a 5-0 lead, and it vanished quickly. The Giants had two on and two outs when Ryan Vogelsong reached on an error by Starlin Castro, who misjudged the grounder, and tried to hurry his throw. One run scored. Pagan was safe on an infield single that Brent Lillibridge fielded cleanly, but held because starter Scott Feldman was slow to cover first base. Another run scored. After Feldman hit Brandon Crawford with a pitch, Sandoval smacked his double to pull within, 5-4.
“I feel really bad,” Castro said of his error. “It’s one of the plays I have to make. It’s a routine play. The pitcher is running. I feel really bad those things happen. You have to know the pitcher is running. You have to be ready to wait for the ball and throw.”
Castro led all Major League shortstops with 27 errors last season. He now has three in nine games this season.
“That one is basically not understanding that the pitcher hit the ball and you had plenty of time,” Sveum said of Castro’s miscue. “You didn’t have to over-charge the ball and over-cook that whole play.”
What happened with Feldman on the Pagan grounder?
“When I saw the ball was hit, I broke for the base,” said Feldman, who also was charged with an error in the first when he botched another Pagan grounder. “I was expecting the throw [in the fourth]. I haven’t looked at the replay but maybe from the angle we were positioned at, it wouldn’t have worked.”
Feldman may be taking grounders at Wrigley on Friday.
“We’ll have to get [Feldman] out early to start working on it because that ain’t acceptable,” Sveum said.
– Carrie Muskat