Cubs

Quade shows faith in Castro, Pena

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Quade shows faith in Castro, Pena

Tuesday, April 26, 2011Posted: 8:35 PM
By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Mike Quade sat in the United Center watching the Blackhawks on Sunday night and wondered about the decision to bench Roberto Luongo.

The Cubs manager thought about the goalies history, what he means to the franchise and how the Vancouver Canucks would respond in a Game 7. Quade gets second-guessed all the time, and welcomes the arguments, so hes earned the right.

The next night, Quade trudged into the interview room at Wrigley Field after his 59th game as Cubs manager. The consensus was that he had never been that angry or frustrated during a postgame media session.

Quade didnt even bother to try to put a positive spin on that 5-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies and went straight to adjectives like awful and bad.

By Tuesday afternoon, Quade was back to being upbeat, admitting that its only one game, less than one percent of the entire season. He is going to take the same long view with Starlin Castro and Carlos Pena.

Its like being the closer, Quade said. You better have a short memory.

On a cold, wet Monday night, Castro became the first Cub in almost 15 years to commit three errors in one inning. Quade didnt say much to his 21-year-old shortstop, other than offer a few words of encouragement.

The message will be the same as it ever was since Castro made his big-league debut 11-plus months ago: Slow the game down for a moment. Dont rush everything.

Im not an excuse-maker, but it wasnt the greatest of nights to play, Quade said. Every throw I watched from everybody on the field (was) made with caution (and) thats the one thing I hope he learned you might have to take a little extra time in those circumstances.

We may not be able to turn the double play. We may not be able to play this thing like its a dry day in June."

Castro doesnt lack for confidence. He doesnt care if he bats leadoff (23-for-46 entering Tuesday) or third (2-for-17). Quade says he hasnt noticed a change in approach, and thats all that matters.

I have no concerns about his psyche, no matter where he hits, Quade said. If he showed up here tomorrow and was hitting fourth, I dont think hed blink.

You just dont wake up one day and go: Hmmmlets try him third. Thats not what I do. Hes talented, hes capable and going through the first month of the season hes our best hitter. Thats whos supposed to be your third guy. Well see how it plays out.

So Quade will continue to mix-and-match, figuring that Kosuke Fukudome (.571 on-base percentage) is the best leadoff option against right-handers and believing that Marlon Byrd will start producing in the clutch (.185 average with runners in scoring position).

Quade also recognizes that Jeff Baker (.990 OPS) deserves more playing time. But the managers not prepared to automatically sit Pena against left-handed pitchers.

Pena woke up Tuesday with zero homers, one extra-base hit, a .169 average and 22 strikeouts in his first 59 at-bats. The first baseman who averaged 36 homers and 102 RBI across the past four seasons has also been dealing with a thumb injury. He got the vote of confidence.

We need to get Carlos going. Period, Quade said. It cant be a platoon system for me because I still would like the left-handed power in the middle of that lineup that I know Carlos has and Im not willing to bail on that three weeks into the season in April in Chicago.

Hopefully thats a conversation for never. Its not for now.

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

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

MESA, Ariz. — “That’s last year, don’t want to talk about that.”

In other words, Addison Russell is so over 2017.

The Cubs shortstop went through a lot last year. He dealt with injuries that affected his foot and shoulder. He had a well-documented off-the-field issue involving an accusation of domestic abuse, which sparked an investigation by Major League Baseball. And then came the trade speculation.

The hot stove season rarely leaves any player completely out of online trade discussion. But after Theo Epstein admitted there was a possibility the Cubs could trade away one or more young position players to bolster the starting rotation, well, Russell’s name came up.

And he saw it.

“There was a lot of trade talk,” Russell said Saturday. “My initial thoughts were, I hope it doesn’t happen, but wherever I go, I’m going to try to bring what I bring to the table here. It’s a good thing that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m happy being in a Cubs uniform, I want to be in a Cubs uniform, for sure. But there was some talk out there. If I got traded, then I got traded, but that’s not the case.”

No, it’s not, as the Cubs solved those pitching questions with free-agent spending, bringing in Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood to replace the departed Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. It means Russell, along with oft-discussed names like Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Javy Baez, are all still Cubs.

While the outside world might have expected one of those guys to be moved in some sort of blockbuster trade for Chris Archer or some other All-Star arm, the Cubs’ young core remains intact, another reason why they’re as much a favorite to win the World Series as any team out there.

“I’m really not surprised. The core is still here. Who would want to break that up? It’s a beautiful thing,” Russell said. “Javy and I in the middle. Schwarber, sometimes playing catcher but mainly outfield. And then (Kris Bryant) over there in the hot corner, and of course (Anthony) Rizzo at first. You’ve got a Gold Glover in right field (Jason Heyward). It’s really hard to break that up.

“When you do break that down on paper, we’ve got a lineup that could stack up with the best.”

This winter has been about moving on for Russell, who said he’s spent months working to strengthen his foot and shoulder after they limited him to 110 games last season, the fewest he played in his first three big league campaigns.

And so for Russell, the formula for returning to his 2016 levels of offensive aptitude isn’t a difficult one: stay on the field.

“Especially with the injuries, I definitely wanted to showcase some more of my talent last year than I displayed,” Russell said. “So going into this year, it’s mainly just keeping a good mental — just staying level headed. And also staying healthy and producing and being out there on the field.

“Next step for me, really just staying out there on the field. I really want to see what I can do as far as helping the team if I can stay healthy for a full season. I think if I just stay out there on the field, I’m going to produce.”

While the decrease in being on the field meant lower numbers from a “counting” standpoint — the drop from 21 homers in 2016 to 12 last year, the drop from 95 RBIs to 43 can in part be attributed to the lower number of games — certain rate stats looked different, too. His on-base percentage dropped from .321 in 2016 to .304 last year.

Russell also struggled during the postseason, picking up just six hits in 36 plate appearances in series against the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out 13 times in 10 postseason games.

Of course, he wasn’t alone. That World Series hangover was team-wide throughout the first half of the season. And even though the Cubs scored 824 runs during the regular season, the second most in the National League and the fourth most in baseball, plenty of guys had their offensive struggles: Schwarber, Heyward and Ben Zobrist, to name a few.

“You can’t take anything for granted. So whenever you win a World Series or you do something good, you just have to live in the moment,” Russell said. “It was a tough season last year because we were coming off winning the World Series and the World Series hangover and all that. This year, we had a couple months off, a couple extra weeks off, and I think a lot of guys took advantage of that. I know I did. And now that we’re here in spring training, we’re going to get back at it.”

Cubs Talk Podcast: Discussing 5-man unit and where Montgomery fits into Cubs' plans

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Discussing 5-man unit and where Montgomery fits into Cubs' plans

Jon Lester has arrived at Cubs camp, and he’s pleased with the new-look rotation full of potential aces. Kelly Crull and Vinnie Duber discuss the 5-man unit, and where Mike Montgomery fits into the Cubs’ plans.

Plus, Kelly and Vinnie talk Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber, along with the continuing free agent stalemate surrounding Jake Arrieta.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here: