No guarantee: Cubs, Coleman surviving auditions


No guarantee: Cubs, Coleman surviving auditions

Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010
10:33 PM

By Patrick Mooney

MIAMI Watching the Cubs each day is an exercise in trying to figure out what it all means for 2011 and beyond, the rookies absorbing the experience and the veterans playing for their next contract.

This week chairman Tom Ricketts outlined some of the qualities hes looking for in a manager during a panel discussion hosted by WSCR-AM 670. Its someone who will teach fundamentals and can handle whats expected to be a relatively younger roster.

And new ownership which is still trying to wrap its arms around what it purchased almost 11 months ago thinks that man should know the culture hes getting into.

Mike Quade grew up in Mount Prospect, which hasnt helped his ticket bills, and is nearing the end of his eighth season in the organization. But hes only guaranteed 14 more games.

You come into the situation believing that what you do and how you approach people is going to work, Quade said. You believe that until the day it doesnt. And if you let the 103 years get in the middle of that thought process, youre probably going to wind up not being around very long.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenly who managed the Arizona Diamondbacks to a World Series title in 2001 will get an interview, though the perception is that he isnt a leading candidate.

The Cubs (67-81) continued scouting their own personnel during Saturdays 5-3 victory over the Florida Marlins in front of 28,716 fans at Sun Life Stadium. They are now 16-7 since Quade took over and have won a season-high five consecutive games.

The crowd included approximately 75 friends and family members connected to Casey Coleman, who grew up in the Fort Myers-Cape Coral area along Floridas Gulf Coast. The 23-year-old rookie right-hander navigated his way through six-plus innings against the Marlins (73-74), allowing three runs on five hits.

Coleman, the games first third-generation big-league pitcher, said he wasnt sure if his father was in attendance on Saturday night. Joe, an instructor in the Detroit Tigers system, gets nervous whenever his son pitches. Coleman thought his father might have stayed home and watched on television.

Coleman has created some anxious moments he walked four Marlins but the Cubs like how hes able to minimize the damage. Hes also regarded as athletic player able to do the little things, like field his position, lay down a bunt and run the bases.

Hes made a wonderful impression on all of us, Quade said. Hes made the most out of his opportunity.

Coleman, however, isnt guaranteed another start, because the Cubs are bringing along Tom Gorzelanny and waiting to make a decision on Carlos Silva. Coleman has accounted for at least six innings in five straight starts. During that stretch, hes 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA, forcing the Cubs to at least think about where he fits into next years plan.

You just got to trust your stuff, Coleman said. The first impression is like: Oh my gosh these guys are awesome hitters. And I kind of shied away from throwing strikes, getting ahead of guys, just trusting it.

The lineup card from Quades first game as manager on Aug. 23 shows Coleman as the winning pitcher that night in Washington. It also marked Colemans first victory in the majors.

Maybe they will be tied together for years to come, or perhaps Quade will use this as a springboard for another job somewhere else, and Coleman will find himself back on the Triple-A level. It could mean everything or nothing, depending on which direction management turns next.

Ill think about that in a few weeks, Coleman said. Whatever happens in the offseason, you know theres going to be a lot of things going on. Itll be a busy offseason for the team. You just want to take it day-by-day and hopefully set yourself up for a job next season.

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

What makes David Bote so good in the clutch?

What makes David Bote so good in the clutch?

Wherever David Bote's career takes him, he'll always carry the label as a "clutch player." 

When you become the only person in baseball history to hit a walk-off grand slam with two outs, two strikes and your team down 3 runs, that kind of reputation will absolutely follow you around.

But how about the fact Bote is already second among Cubs players with 4 walk-off RBI despite playing just 46 home games in his career? (Anthony Rizzo is first with 7 walk-off RBI in his career.)

That's more than Ben Zobrist and Daniel Descalso, who have each notched more than 10 years and 1,000 games in the big leagues.

Even beyond walk-offs, Bote also has a game-tying 2-run shot in the bottom of the ninth inning on his resume from a July 26 game against the Diamondbacks last season. 

In total, Bote is hitting .370/.433/.815 (1.248 OPS) with 3 of his 7 career homers in the ninth inning or later. 

Here's where he ranks in leverage situations over his 93 big-league games:

High leverage — .280/.302/.660 (.962 OPS), 4 HR
Medium/low leverage — .242/.340/.348 (.688 OPS), 3 HR

Those are all just fancy numbers, but what's it all mean? When the lights are the brightest, Bote is at his best. 

"You can't teach that," Anthony Rizzo said. "He's had a lot of situations like that and he's come through. It's fun to watch."

So how does Bote do it? What makes him so clutch?

He has a specific approach and he practices those types of situations — and not just in the way where kids go out in their backyards and pretend they're up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning.

"It's the mental side of calming yourself, making sure you look for what you want to do — even throughout the whole game," Bote said. "In the offseason and the cage, my last swing of the day is always the game-winning type — OK, it's bases loaded, two outs, we're down 1, I need a base hit. Or we're down 3 or whatever the situation is, I play it out and I just have that practice."

The mental aspect of the game is a huge reason why Bote became such a big story last year, persevering through a long journey in the minor leagues. 

But it's also about opportunity and there's certainly a sense of luck involved.

Sunday, for example, Javy Baez led off the bottom of the ninth inning by motoring into third base, which put Willson Contreras up for a possible walk-off situation. But Arizona's Archie Bradley hit the Cubs catcher with a pitch, bringing Bote up with a chance to end the game. 

"Definitely opportunistic," Bote admitted. "You only have a chance to do it if you're in a position to do it. ... It's a team effort — those guys set the table and I just happened to be the one on Sunday that came through. 

"[Albert] Almora is another guy who gets that opportunity a lot. I think that's the team mindset we have — getting to the next guy. If I didn't do it, I know [Ben Zobrist] would've done it. I think that's the mindset of it all and you hope the first guy that gets a crack at it gets it done."

Bote's clutch hit Sunday allowed the Cubs to avoid extra innings and gave him the opportunity to make his flight back home to Colorado for the birth of his third child, Sullivan. 

Bote was on paternity leave from the team Monday and Tuesday and had some time to reflect on what's already been an emotional week. 

Sunday also marked the one-year anniversary of his MLB debut.

"It was a year ago and it felt like forever ago, just with all that's happened," Bote said. "And I think it's a good thing. Just enjoying every day — the longer it seems, the better. I'm more focused on just worrying about today."

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Jon Lester will return from the IL on Thursday and start against the Dodgers

Jon Lester will return from the IL on Thursday and start against the Dodgers

As expected, Jon Lester will return from the injured list and start Thursday's game, the Cubs confirmed Wednesday afternoon. 

Lester will get the ball in the series finale against the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers.

Lester injured his left hamstring running the bases in the second inning of the Cubs' home opener on April 8. Prior to that, he turned in a quality start in each of his first two outings of the season.

The 35-year-old has been working out at Wrigley Field throughout the homestand, including a 45-pitch simulated game Saturday. 

The Cubs jumbled their rotation over the weekend, starting Tyler Chatwood on Sunday even though Jose Quintana was on regular rest. Chatwood had a fantastic outing Sunday and Quintana followed Tuesday night with one of his best starts in a Cubs uniform. 

Joe Maddon said Chatwood could possibly serve as a piggyback to Lester's start, as the Cubs are expecting about 75 pitches from the veteran southpaw Thursday.

"Realistically, I'd say 75 — almost like what we had set up for Chatwood the other day," Maddon said. "How he gets to that number - is it stressful? Is it not stressful? Does he have to leave the mound a lot on different plays? When he hits a double, how hard does he run to second base? Those kinds of things. We'll just monitor all of that. I'm saying 75-80 sounds like the right kind of number."

Cole Hamels threw Wednesday night and Lester will close out the series against a high-powered Dodgers offense that struggles a bit more against lefties than right-handers. Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish and Quintana will go in the three games in Arizona over the weekend.