Cubs

Quade: No Zambrano apology needed

Quade: No Zambrano apology needed

Friday, April 15, 2011
Posted: 9:21 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

DENVER Others in the organization have more power and make more money. But no one who works for the Cubs will talk to the media as much as Mike Quade, and its not even close.

The manager understands that he has to manage the narrative what he says publicly matters in the clubhouse, fans want to know what he thinks and words have consequences.

From high up in the Minute Maid Park press box on Wednesday night, this looked like a serious breach of baseball protocol: Carlos Zambrano walking off the mound before Quade could even get there, then handing off the ball on the infield grass, about halfway toward the third-base line.

Less than 48 hours later, Quade stuck to his story and downplayed the incident, even though Zambrano was compelled to go to the managers office and say sorry immediately after a 9-5 win over the Houston Astros.

If that act offended Quades sensibilities as an old-school baseball guy, he didnt let it show.

I dont really think my ego is so big, Quade said Friday at Coors Field. If hes upset, just dont drop the thing, and I meant (that). I appreciate the apology, but I just didnt think it was that big a deal.

Thats it. I didnt need an apology to make this thing right.

The Cubs knew that Kerry Wood would pay dividends beyond the eighth inning. In this situation the veteran reliever should be credited with a hold or a save. Zambrano had hit his 22nd career homer in the sixth and then watched his five shutout innings evaporate.

When I came in, Woody told me to talk to Quade, Zambrano said. If Woody didnt say anything to me

Zambrano is almost 30 years old and has pitched in nearly 300 major-leagues games. But he sounded genuine when he admitted his mistake and said he didnt realize how far he had wandered off the mound.

There was no hint of Zambrano being defensive, making excuses or pointing fingers.

As a veteran pitcher, I have to be able to command more of myself and command the pitches, Zambrano said. I started the inning aggressive. Thats unacceptable.

To create that culture of accountability, you need guys like Wood, a beat cop patrolling the clubhouse.

Good for them, Quade said. I think those guys can police that kind of stuff more than I have to. Im not going to stomp around. Thats just not what I do.

Heres what Quade has to do: Before every game, there is a media briefing and a separate one-on-one interview with the teams flagship radio station. Postgame, 162 times a year, the manager has to sit there and answer questions and explain what just happened.

Factor in seven weeks of spring training and appearances on local and national radio and television outlets, Quades approaching 1,000 encounters with a microphone in his face.

The reporters come at Quade from all angles. They ask for updates on Kosuke Fukudomes strained hamstring, reactions to the Barry Bonds trial and opinions on instant replay.

Baseball culture doesnt allow Quade to dismiss it as a lower-body injury like Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. Quade has to account for essentially double the number of players and games as Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. Quade cant help himself hell never be as boring as Lovie Smith at the Halas Hall podium.

Quade genuinely enjoys the give-and-take with reporters. He watches college basketball and wonders what the hell the coach is thinking, so he figures he cant be exempt from that second-guessing.

But there are limits. Picking a fight with Zambrano in the second week of the season probably isnt worth it. There will no doubt be other fires to put out.

In 17 years as a minor-league manager, and seven more as a big-league coach, Quade developed a thick skin. In this job, hes going to need it.

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

Inside the bullpen: What Cubs' Craig Kimbrel is working on behind the scenes

Inside the bullpen: What Cubs' Craig Kimbrel is working on behind the scenes

Craig Kimbrel’s brief appearance in the Cubs’ 5-4 victory over the Royals on Tuesday offered a glimpse into what he’s working on in bullpen sessions behind the scenes.

“I've been working a lot,” the seven-time All-Star closer said Wednesday. “I felt like last night I did some things a little better, but when it comes down to it, you still have to execute a certain pitch at a certain location at certain times. And I wasn’t able to do that.”

Tuesday was the least troubling of Kimbrel’s three outings this season, which isn’t much of a vote of confidence after four walks in his first and back-to-back home runs in his second. On Tuesday, Kimbrel recorded one strikeout and put two runners in scoring position before Cubs manager David Ross replaced him with Kyle Ryan. Both runners scored.

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Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said the focus for Kimbrel, as he works through mechanical issues, is consistency.

“I think that's the key to pitching in general,” Hottovy said, “consistency in mechanics, consistency in delivery, consistency in where your release points are. All those things add up to better stuff, better velo, better spin, but also better command.”

Hottovy has identified inconsistency in Kimbrel’s arm path and release point. Kimbrel’s control issues stem from that. Those control issues have shown up in different ways for his two pitches.

First, the fastball: Hottovy used two different at-bats in Kimbrel’s appearance Tuesday night as an example.

Against Royals pinch hitter Franchy Cordero, Kimbrel located a 97-mph fastball at the top of the zone for a swing-and-miss strike three. Against Adalberto Mondesi, that same pitch crept into the middle of the zone, and Mondesi scorched a line drive off the right field wall.

“What you see from Craig, the stuff is still trending in the right direction,” Hottovy said. “The breaking ball was better yesterday. The fastball life is coming back. But in the end, in this game, we're facing professional hitters.”

Professional Hitters who can make a pitcher pay for a mistake.

That becomes especially easy when teams can gear up for one pitch and ignore the rest.

“You have to get them to honor it,” Hottovy said of Kimbrel’s curve ball, “and to get them to honor it, you have to consistently be able to throw that pitch in the strike zone, and then be able to attack (with the) fastball.”

Kimbrel has faced three different teams: The Reds, Pirates and Royals. None of them have swung at his curve ball.

“I think at times it's one of two things,” Kimbrel said, “Either I'm showing it too early or it's not starting as a strike, or they've already had that game plan to eliminate the curve ball.”

In the Reds’ case, it was the latter. Cincinnati rookie Tyler Stephenson told reporters as much after the game. He laid off three curve balls in his at-bat against Kimbrel. Stephenson walked.

According to Hottovy, Kimbrel is working on slowing down his lower body – “staying taller, sitting more on his back side” – to consistently give his arm time to get to the right release point.

 “I'm still going out there trying to compete,” Kimbrel said. “I'm not going out there and saying, 'I think I'm going to get beat today, I don't want to be out here.' By no means am I anywhere close to that. I think if anything, it’s just more frustration towards myself (for) putting myself in I'm spot I'm in, … having to ask guys to get up and throw more, based on my performance.”

 

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Cubs, Reds to make up rainout with 7-inning doubleheader Aug. 29

Cubs, Reds to make up rainout with 7-inning doubleheader Aug. 29

The Cubs will get a taste of Major League Baseball's new doubleheader format later this month.

On Aug. 29, the Cubs and Reds will make up their July 30 rainout as part of a seven-inning doubleheader.

MLB recently changed its doubleheader format for 2020 only in wake of numerous postponements across the league due to the Marlins COVID-19 outbreak. All doubleheaders going forward this season are seven innings each, the idea being to reduce the wear and tear on pitchers' arms.

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Pitchers have been going down at alarming rates early in this 60-game season after baseball's long shutdown and quick ramp-up in Summer Camp.

The Cardinals also have seven games to make up due to their recent outbreak.

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