Sveum brings McKay onto Cubs staff


Sveum brings McKay onto Cubs staff

Cubs manager Dale Sveum is bringing in someone from Tony La Russas inner circle.

Dave McKay who spent the past 16 seasons as the St. Louis Cardinals first-base coach will take the same job with the Cubs. Before that, McKay spent a decade working for La Russa and the Oakland As. Their run saw three World Series titles, including last seasons championship drive that led up to La Russas retirement.

The Cubs finally unveiled their coaching staff on Friday and as expected Rudy Jaramillo (hitting) and Lester Strode (bullpen) will return in 2012. Pat Listach who was Mike Quades bench coach last season will move to third base. All three have developed good connections with players in the clubhouse.

Two key Sveum hires Jamie Quirk (bench) and Chris Bosio (pitching) had already been established. McKay, 61, wasnt going to be part of Mike Mathenys new staff in St. Louis.

Dave came into the picture a little bit late because I had no idea that he got let go by the Cardinals. I was shocked by that, Sveum said. I was just glad that I didnt miss (out and) Dave got a hold of me (to) let me know that he was out there because hes a huge asset to any team.

Sveum played briefly in Oakland and lives near McKay in Arizona, where the Cubs staff has been going over the roster and making plans for spring training.

The major-league staff assistants will be Mike Borzello, a catching instructor with ties to the New York Yankees, and Franklin Font, a long-time minor-league staffer who has a good relationship with Starlin Castro.

Quirk played 18 years in the big leagues and has 18 more seasons of experience as a coach in the majors. Bosio has done the job before in Tampa Bay and Milwaukee and can draw upon the 11 seasons he pitched in the majors.

Sveum will be surrounded by people he trusts, and that will be huge during his first full season as a major-league manager.

We have a lot of guys that are really good teachers, Sveum said. (Theyve) been around the game (and they) know how to handle big-league players and how to get the best out of them.

Adbert Alzolay makes some memories on an otherwise forgettable night for the Cubs

Adbert Alzolay makes some memories on an otherwise forgettable night for the Cubs

The Cubs lost an entirely forgettable game on Tuesday night, dropping the second of their four games against the NL East-leading Braves by a score of 3-2. They left four men on base, only managed four hits, ran into two outs, and made one error in a game that was over well in time for a Clark Street nightcap, or three. 

What was memorable about Tuesday night was the performance of Adbert Alzolay, the Cubs’ top pitching prospect who was making his first major league start. The final line: 4.2 innings pitched, one hit, one run, four walks and four strikeouts. It’s certainly not the prettiest line you’ll see in tomorrow’s box scores, but the 24 year old passed the eye test with flying colors. 

“Everything was good - he was outstanding,” Joe Maddon said after the game. “I just think he hit a well there at the end. We just have to get him more used to that. Listen, he’s been injured in the past, he’s coming back - you’ve got to be real sensitive to the number of pitches and workload you put on him, because you can see how good he’s going to be.”

Things got off to an inauspicious start for Alzolay, whose first pitch of the game was crushed 413 feet into the left field bleachers for a leadoff homer, courtesy of Braves’ outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. It would prove to be the only hit and run that Alzolay allowed on the night. 

“It’s just one pitch,” he said. “You have to keep working - the game continues. I was just starting the game, so if you lose your mind in that situation than you’re not going to last a lot of innings.

“Even after the home run, he came right back and said, ‘I’m fine’,” Maddon added. “Then he went up and got three really good hitters out. I liked the mound demeanor, we’ve just got to get him a little further along in regards to being stretched out.”

After coming out flat with his secondary pitches during his 4-inning relief appearance on June 20th, Alzolay flashed better command and execution of both his curveball and changeup. Half of his strikeouts came on the curveball - one to get left fielder Austin Riley in the 2nd and one to get Acuña in the 3rd. After throwing 13 changeups in his debut, Alzolay double that number on Tuesday (27). 

“I’m feeling really confident throwing the pitch in any count,” Alzolay said of his changeup. “Tonight I threw it a couple times when I was behind in the count and I got a good result after that, so I’ll just keep on throwing it.

“For us to get confident at something, you have to practice, you have to execute it, and you have to use it in the game,” said catcher Willson Contreras, who plated both of the Cubs’ two runs with a double in the 4th. “For him to be able to throw the changeup for a strike, and strikeout people, it’s really good - especially at his age.”

Maddon couldn’t answer when Alzolay would make his next start. With Kyle Hendricks eyeing a return around the All-Star break, there would seemingly be a few more opportunities ahead of the rookie. Given what he showed on Tuesday night, it’d be hard to argue against it.

"He can be really good in the big leagues," Contreras said. "He still needs to make adjustments like all of us, but with the confidence he has, the ability he has, and the way he prepares before the games, it's going to take him a long way."

Cubs Talk Podcast: Ryne Sandberg: Part 1


Cubs Talk Podcast: Ryne Sandberg: Part 1

Luke Stuckmeyer sits down with Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg for a wide-ranging conversation centered around the infamous "Sandberg Game."

Ryne gives insight into his feelings upon being traded to the Cubs (2:00), and discusses the reason he ended up with the No. 23 (5:00). Plus, how the 1984 season changed everything and raised his personal expectations sky-high (9:00) and the "Daily Double" dynamic between him and Bob Dernier (16:00).

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast