Cubs

The next Cubs-Red Sox showdown could be over Sveum

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The next Cubs-Red Sox showdown could be over Sveum

MILWAUKEE Dale Sveum believes you should never let the players see how youre feeling inside. He thinks thats a clear sign of weakness for a manager.

Sveum will need a good poker face when he arrives at the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Because the Brewers hitting coach was scheduled to meet again with Cubs executives, perhaps as early as Tuesday night, before sitting down on Wednesday with the Red Sox at the meetings for owners and general managers.

So while Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington continue negotiating over compensation Bostons general manager is still optimistic commissioner Bud Selig wont have to arbitrate the next showdown between the Cubs and Red Sox could be over Sveum.

Sveum is viewed as the heavy favorite in Boston, where he worked as the third-base coach on the forever team that ended an 86-year championship drought and made Epstein a legend throughout New England.

The Cubs followed-up again with Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, who declined to interview in Boston because it would have created too much distance between his wife and two college-age daughters in Texas.

It sounded like the family still hasnt given a final answer as to whether they could make it work in Chicago.

Its still something that hes weighing. Those considerations havent gone away, general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. Its certainly a big factor. I think its a factor for everyone, (but) in this case, it probably weighs a little more heavily.

Hoyer does not see another candidate being added to the mix. Beyond Maddux and Sveum, the Cubs have interviewed bench coaches Sandy Alomar Jr. (Indians) and Pete Mackanin (Phillies) in person and DeMarlo Hale (Red Sox) by phone.

Sources insist that Terry Francona is not a serious candidate, and hasnt been eliminated from consideration publicly out of respect for the two World Series rings he helped Epstein win in Boston. Epstein has been in contact with Francona, who hasnt spoken with Hoyer during this entire process.

The Cubs and Red Sox wont admit it publicly, but they soon may have to pull the trigger.

The right person to be manager for the Red Sox in 2012 is not necessarily the right person to be manager for the Cubs, Cherington said. They are different jobs, different challenges.

Theyre doing what they need to do and were doing what we need to do. The decisions too important to react to what somebody else is doing. (We) got to take our time and get the right person.

Even with that, theres no silver bullet. (You) got to surround that person with the right people.

That supporting cast will be important because the next managers at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park will almost certainly have little-to-no experience managing at the highest level.

The list of guys that have managed and are available is fairly short, Cherington said. Most successful major-league managers are still successful major-league managers. So we wanted to find the right fit. We feel like we have to at least consider taking a chance on someone who hasnt done it (before).

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin promoted Sveum after Ned Yost was fired late in the 2008 season and watched his team clinch the wild card.

Melvin passed over Sveum because he wanted a new face in the dugout and didnt believe thered necessarily be a carryover effect to the next year with an interim manager. The Cubs certainly found that out with Mike Quade.

Sveum also lost out to Ron Roenicke last year, but it speaks to his knowledge and personality that he survived so many regime changes in Milwaukee.

The word out of Boston and Milwaukee is that Sveum isnt particularly polished in front of the cameras, and wont charm the media with stories. But he absolutely commands respect in the clubhouse. It could be his time now.

Every player that plays in the big leagues was a rookie once, Melvin said, and every guy that manages in the big leagues had to get his start somewhere.

Epstein and Hoyer feel like theyre nearing the decision-making phase where they can put their choice in front of the Ricketts family. They probably would have done this with Sveum over the phone, but he was coming to Milwaukee anyway to see the Red Sox, in whats become a great off-the-field rivalry.

Were not focusing on the Red Sox and what theyre doing, Hoyer said. Were trying to make sure we make the right decision for the Cubs.

Willson Contreras, Jon Lester carry Cubs to eventful win in the first game of the series with Atlanta

Willson Contreras, Jon Lester carry Cubs to eventful win in the first game of the series with Atlanta

The Cubs and Braves got through roughly one inning of Stranger Things Night at Wrigley Field before Willson Contreras made the evening his own. 

The catcher went 2-4 with three RBI, and provided the most notable moment from the game: a 2nd inning solo homer that caused both benches to clear. Contreras had taken issue with a few of the called strikes earlier in the at-bat, and said something to home plate umpire John Tumpane about it. Contreras continued to make his feelings known as he left the box, drawing the ire of Braves catcher Tyler Flowers.

“To be honest, those pitches weren’t even close to the strike zone,” he said. “[Flowers] got mad because I was talking to the umpire about that, and he jumped into the conversation. 

Contreras then proceeded to shout in the direction of Atlanta’s dugout while rounding first base, and the two catchers exchanged more words as he crossed home plate. The benches quickly emptied, and after a few moments of posturing, returned to their dugouts. 

“It was a lot of emotions together,” he said after the game. “I was having a conversation with the umpire, and it ended up with [Flowers], so that’s all I can say. I just basically told him to do his job and I’ll do mine. I don’t know why he got pissed off because that’s all I said - you do your job and i’ll do mine.”

“I was kind of amused by the whole thing,” Joe Maddon added. “I don’t really know Mr. Flowers - we had a nice conversation, walked away, and it was over. It really wasn’t worth more than what happened.

The confrontation was just one of a few testy moments between these two teams. In the top of the 2nd inning, Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson was caught on cameras shushing the Cubs dugout: 

Two innings later, it was Javy Baez who returned serve by blowing the Braves a kiss after stealing second on Flowers: 

“It’s fun because they’re good,” Maddon said. “And we’re good - that’s the fun part. Monday night, at 7:05, to have that kind of attitude and atmosphere is outstanding. That’s what baseball needs.” 

On the mound, Jon Lester bounced back from a run of three straight underwhelming performances. June hasn’t been kind to Lester, as the lefty had allowed 14 runs over the last 23 IPs prior to Monday’s start, good for a 5.93 FIP. He threw 94 pitches against the Braves, lasting six innings while allowing two runs -- both unearned, though -- and striking out seven. He only threw 94 pitches, but his control (0 BB) was excellent. Lester spotted his strikeout pitch well all night, getting four of his six right-handed K’s on the low outside corner:

“I just tried to stay down there, and had the backdoor cutter to those guys,” Lester said. “We were able to kind of exploit that, and then when we felt that guys were reaching out there a little bit, I ran the cutter in on some guys too. I was just able to command both sides of the plate tonight, which is huge against an offense like that.” 

“Great job by Jon,” Maddon added, “Jon had great stuff. Coming off of [throwing 114 pitches], he’s been throwing a lot of pitches on regular rest, so I wanted to limit that tonight. He was lobbying to go back out, but I didn’t feel good about it based on the longevity of the season and we had a rested Kintzler.

“But Jon was really good, and really good against a tough lineup.”

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Live from Wrigley it's Cubs Authentic Fan Night

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USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Live from Wrigley it's Cubs Authentic Fan Night

Ozzie Guillen and Doug Glanville join Leila Rahimi to talk all things Chicago baseball as the Cubs take on the Braves and the White Sox look to get a win in Boston.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: