Cubs

Coleman's made a strong pitch for next job

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Coleman's made a strong pitch for next job

Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010
12:15 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

HOUSTON This feels like the last few periods before school lets out for summer, the approximately 48 hours left in this Cubs season.

There was Carlos Zambrano on Friday afternoon posting a lineup card written in Japanese to the wall. And when someone pointed at the brace and questioned the mild left knee sprain, Kosuke Fukudome moonwalked across the room like Michael Jackson.

By Oct. 1, the Cubs and those around the team seemed a bit punch-drunk. While some of the players are already looking forward to flying from Houston to their offseason homes, Mike Quade is awaiting an answer on his future.

The Cubs manager for the moment hasnt scheduled any interviews with Jim Hendry yet. But the general manager is traveling with the team on this last road trip, and watched the Cubs secure a 2-0 victory over the Astros on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

I really am in a day-to-day mode, Quade said. I will manage here these three days and finish up. Im in no hurry to leave Chicago. I do want to catch (some) fish, but Ill be there for several days (and) that process will take care of itself.

Im flexible as can be. And when that conversation needs to happen, or if anybody needs me, Im always available, whether Im in Florida or whether Im in Chicago. (To) be honest, I havent concerned myself with that.

Quades resume includes a .657 winning percentage (23-12) since he replaced Lou Piniella, but he is not the only one auditioning. In front of 33,869 fans, Casey Coleman threw seven scoreless innings and had an RBI double to beat the Astros (75-85).

Its huge for the offseason, Coleman said. It just sets you up for a new fresh start next year, knowing that you can pitch here and (have gained) a lot of confidence in your teammates and coaches.

Coleman will report to Mesa, Ariz., as a different pitcher in February. Quiet and polite, he mostly kept to himself during his first spring-training camp with the major-league club. He was just trying to get acclimated, facing hitters like Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.

The 23-year-old rookie has now gone at least six innings in seven straight starts. Hes 4-2 with a 3.33 ERA in the eight starts hes been given since the middle of August.

Hes done a heck of a job, Quade said. Ultimately, its about performance. I dont know how many people knew (who) Casey Coleman was eight weeks ago, (but) now hes got a special place in my heart because they know who he is now.

The Cubs staff has now thrown 21 consecutive scoreless innings, and Coleman has tried to convince the front office that he should be part of it in 2011.

A rotation that could begin with Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster at the top will have Tom Gorzelanny and Randy Wells on the next tier. Carlos Silva will have to address health concerns and Jeff Samardzija will be out of minor-league options.

So if others seemed distracted, this final start still mattered to Coleman. He pumped his fist after inducing an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the fifth. Even if the pressures off, hes hoping someone will notice.

Every outing youre out there pitching for a job, no matter where it is (or) what team, Coleman said. You never know what can happen. It means a lot to (many) guys in this clubhouse and I knows it means a lot to Q.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

MESA, Ariz. — The first thing Kyle Schwarber told his new hitting coach?

"His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.'"

The Cubs hired Chili Davis as the team's new hitting coach for myriad reasons. He's got a great track record from years working with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, and that .274/.360/.451 slash line during an illustrious 19-year big league career certainly helps.

But Davis' main immediate task in his new gig will be to help several of the Cubs' key hitters prove Schwarber's assessment correct.

Schwarber had a much-publicized tough go of things in 2017. After he set the world on fire with his rookie campaign in 2015 and returned from what was supposed to be a season-ending knee injury in time to be one of the Cubs' World Series heroes in 2016, he hit just .211 last season, getting sent down to Triple-A Iowa for a stint in the middle of the season. Schwarber still hit 30 home runs, but his 2017 campaign was seen as a failure by a lot of people.

Enter Davis, who now counts Schwarber as one of his most important pupils.

"He's a worker," Davis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Schwarbs, he knows he's a good player. His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.' He said last year was just a fluke year. He said, 'I've never failed in my life.' And he said, 'I'm going to get back to the player that I was.'

"I think he may have — and this is my thought, he didn't say this to me — I think it may have been, he had a big World Series, hit some homers, and I think he tried to focus on being more of a home run type guy as opposed to being a good hitter.

"His focus has changed. I had nothing to do with that, he came in here with that focus that he wants to be a good hitter first and let whatever happens happen. And he's worked on that. The main thing with Kyle is going to be is just maintaining focus."

The physically transformed Schwarber mentioned last week that he's established a good relationship with Davis, in no small part because Schwarber can relate to what Davis went through when he was a player. And to hear Davis tell it, it sounds like he's describing Schwarber's first three years as a big leaguer to a T.

"Telling him my story was important because it was similar," Davis said. "I was a catcher, got to big league camp, and I was thrown in the outfield. And I hated the outfield. ... But I took on the challenge. I made the adjustment, I had a nice first year, then my second year I started spiraling. I started spiraling down, and I remember one of my coaches saying, 'I'm going to have to throw you a parachute just so you can land softly.' I got sent down to Triple-A at the All-Star break for 15 days.

"When I got sent down, I was disappointed, but I was also really happy. I needed to get away from the big league pressure and kind of find myself again. I went home and refocused myself and thought to myself, 'I'm going to come back as Chili.' Because I tried to change, something changed about me the second year.

"And when I did that, I came back the next year and someone tried to change me and I said, 'Pump the breaks a little bit, let me fail my way, and then I'll come to you if I'm failing.' And they understood that, and I had a nice year, a big year and my career took off.

"I'm telling him, 'Hey, let last year go. It happened, it's in the past. Keep working hard, maintain your focus, and you'll be fine.'"

Getting Schwarber right isn't Davis' only task, of course. Despite the Cubs being one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball last season, they had plenty of guys go through subpar seasons. Jason Heyward still has yet to find his offensive game since coming to Chicago as a high-priced free agent. Ben Zobrist was bothered by a wrist injury last season and put up the worst numbers of his career. Addison Russell had trouble staying healthy, as well, and saw his numbers dip from what they were during the World Series season in 2016.

So Davis has plenty of charges to work with. But he likes what he's seen so far.

"They work," Davis said. "They come here to work. I had a group of guys in Boston that were the same last year, and it makes my job easier. They want to get better, they come out every day, they show up, they want to work. They're excited, and I'm excited to be around them.

And what have the Cubs found out about Davis? Just about everyone answers that question the same way: He likes to talk.

"I'm not going to stop talking," he said. "If I stop talking, something's wrong."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

Carmen DeFalco (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Bernfield join Kap on the panel. Anthony Rizzo returns to the Cubs after an emotional weekend home while Tom Ricketts expects another World Series parade. Plus Hall of Famer Andre Dawson joins Kap to talk about his Cubs reunion and how the current crop unsigned free agents compares to his experiences with collusion.