Cubs

Colvin has handled everything thrown his way

Colvin has handled everything thrown his way

Friday, Sept. 17, 2010
Updated 11:30 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MIAMI Tyler Colvin is left-handed, 6-foot-3 and 25 years old, three reasons why he continues to work out at first base. During batting practice late Friday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium, Starlin Castro threw a ball over his head.

The Cubs like Castros defensive range, but want him to concentrate hard on the territory six feet to his left and six feet to his right, so that he consistently makes the routine plays and cuts down on his errors (26).

It appears that Colvin would make a good target at first base, though he hasnt played there since early in his career at Clemson University, and even then it was in a backup role. The Cubs dont have an immediate long-term answer at the position Xavier Nady is approaching free agency.

If youre envisioning an infield anchored by Colvin and Castro, then youll have to wait.

Before becoming manager, Mike Quades responsibilities as third-base coach included working with the outfielders. Quades seen Colvins arm and athleticism in the outfield, which has allowed the rookie to play in right, center and left.

Quade doesnt plan to play Colvin at first base this weekend in Miami, and refuses to experiment against a contender. So the only window would be the seasons final series if we wanted to have fun some fun in Houston. (It) would almost be on a whim at this point.

Its not like hes taking balls at short, Quade said. This could be a valuable thing for him someday. I just dont know if its going to be a valuable thing for him in the next two weeks.

And so the education continues for Colvin, who woke up Friday with 20 home runs, tied for the lead among all major-league rookies with Florida Marlins outfielder Mike Stanton.

Colvin generated only 15 homers last year while splitting his time between Class-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee. He still does not view himself as a home-run hitter. He accounted for 56 in 442 career minor-league games.

Until his promotion from Double-A Jacksonville on June 8, Stanton had hit 89 homers across 323 games in the minors. When asked what it would mean to finish the season with the rookie lead in home runs, Colvin replied, Not much.

That answer basically sums up Colvin, who is friendly and accommodating and makes sure not to say anything controversial in a big media market. He hasnt complained about playing time or a potential position switch. He managed to stay out of the Steve Stone controversy when the White Sox broadcaster criticized Lou Piniella for not giving him enough at-bats.

Hes an intelligent kid, Quade said. He listens, he learns, he tries to do the right thing. (This) kid also has a lot of the intangibles that should allow him to get the most out of his ability.

Hes been through a lot and Ill be damned hes handled everything really well.

Part of it is seeing how the National League attacks your swing, making adjustments and identifying pitches. Colvin was 2-for-10 this season against Chris Carpenter when he stepped in against the former Cy Young Award winner Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.

Colvin launched a 3-2 curveball 383 feet into the right-field seats for a three-run homer that was a finishing touch on a three-game sweep of the Cardinals that had analyst Jack Clark calling them quitters the next day on St. Louis radio.

Colvin had been stuck on 19 homers since Aug. 24. And his batting averageon-base percentage numbers have gone through the ups and downs: .289.365 in April; .333.367 in May; .250.280 in June; .253.330 in July; .215.271 in August; and .243.282 in September.

He processed another piece of firsthand information against Carpenter, which should help him wherever he plays in the future, and whenever he gets 500-plus plate appearances in a season.

You can go off what everybodys telling you, Colvin said, but until you get up there and experience it for yourself, thats what you got to go (with).

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

Podcast: Cubs pass the first test in midst of crucial stretch

cubs_cardinals_series_june_podcast_slide.jpg
Scott Changnon

Podcast: Cubs pass the first test in midst of crucial stretch

On the latest CubsTalk Podcast Scott Changnon and Tony Andracki discuss the state of the Cubs offense, the value of Javy Baez and Addison Russell and what it means now that the starting rotation looks to be finding its form.

With 17 games in 17 days (most of which come against contending teams), the Cubs started things off right with a series victory in St. Louis.

Listen to the entire podcast here:

The Cubs are in a way better spot than they were a year ago

The Cubs are in a way better spot than they were a year ago

ST. LOUIS — It's night and day watching the 2018 Cubs compared to the 2017 version.

Even with the injury to Javy Baez Sunday night, the Cubs are in a way better spot now than they were a year ago.

On June 17 of last season, the Cubs sat at 33-34 with a run differential of just +6.

They looked flat more often than not. "Hangover" was the word thrown around most and it was true — the Cubs really did have a World Series hangover.

They admit that freely and it's also totally understandable. Not only did they win one of the most mentally and physically draining World Series in history, but they also ended a 108-year championship drought and the weight of that accomplishment was simply staggering. 

The 2018 iteration of the Cubs are completely different. 

Even though they didn't finish off the sweep of their division rivals in St. Louis Sunday night, they're still only a half-game behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central and for the best record in the league. A +95 run differential paced the NL and sat behind only the Houston Astros (+157), Boston Red Sox (+102) and New York Yankees (+98) in the AL.

Through 67 games, the Cubs sat at 40-27, 13 games above .500 compared to a game below .500 at the same point last summer.

What's been the main difference?

"Energy," Joe Maddon said simply. "Coming off the World Series, it was really hard to get us kickstarted. It was just different. I thought the fatigue generated from the previous two years, playing that deeply into the year. A lot of young guys on the team last year.

"We just could not get it kickstarted. This year, came out of camp with a fresher attitude. Not like we've been killing it to this point; we've been doing a lot better, but I didn't even realize that's the difference between last year and this year.

"If anything, I would just pinpoint it on energy."

Of course the physical component is easy to see. The Cubs played past Halloweeen in 2016 and then had so many demands for street namings and talk shows and TV appearances and Disney World and on and on. That would leave anybody exhausted with such a shortened offseason.

There's also the mental component. The Cubs came into 2018 with a chip on their shoulder after running into a wall in the NLCS last fall against the Los Angeles Dodgers. They have a renewed focus and intensity.

But there's still plenty of room for more. The Cubs aren't happy with the best record and run differential in the NL. They know they still haven't fully hit their stride yet, even amidst a 24-13 stretch over the last five weeks.

"I think we've been pretty consistent," Jon Lester said. "We've had some ups and downs on both sides of the ball as far as pitching and hitting. But the biggest thing is our bullpen and our defense has been pretty solid all year.

"That's kept us in those games. When we do lose — you're gonna have the anomalies every once in a while and get blown out — we're in every single game. It's all we can do. Keep grinding it out.

"Our offense will be fine. Our defense and the back end of our bullpen has done an unbelievable job of keeping us in these games. And if we contribute as a starting five, even better. 

"You have the games where our guys get feeling sexy about themselves and score some runs. That's where the snowball effect and we get on that little bit of a run. I feel like we've been on a few runs, it just hasn't been an extended period of time. I don't have any concerns as far as inside this clubhouse."

Lester hit the nail on the head. The Cubs sit at this point with only 1 win from Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood struggling with command and low power numbers from several guys including Kris Bryant.

Throw in the fact that Joe Maddon's Cubs teams always seem to get into a groove in August and September when they're fresher and "friskier" than the rest of the league and this team is currently in very good shape for the remainder of the year. 

If they can get 3 wins away from the World Series after going 33-34, the sky should be the limit for a 2018 squad that's in a much better position 67 games in.