Cubs

Sveum tells Cubs: No more excuses

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Sveum tells Cubs: No more excuses

Dale Sveum dazzled Cubs executives with his information, the video analysis to help hitters and the spray charts to position defenders. But this statistic he called up could be the most telling indicator of the manager hell become.

In all my dealings in baseball, Sveum said, 99.9 percent of all players want to be looked in the face and told to get their crap together.

Clark and Addison is an increasingly corporate place, being filled with people educated at elite private schools on the East Coast. But they recognized the potential and saw themselves in Sveum, who rides motorcycles and is covered in five tattoos (he had to pause to make sure he counted them all).

Sveum knew hed be asked about how he got the nickname Nuts during Fridays news conference at Wrigley Field. He couldnt go into details about what he did as a young Brewers player, other than: It has nothing to do with my lower half.

Sveum will need a sense of humor in this job. The predictable questions came about Prince Fielder and Carlos Zambrano, though it would be shocking if either one is in a Cubs uniform next season.

Theo Epstein wasnt surprised that Fielder grew close to Sveum. The Brewers hitting coach develops those relationships all the time.

I dont think that was unique, Epstein said. Its hard in this game to find someone whos willing to go up to a superstar and just talk to them and be able to tell them sometimes what they dont want to hear. And that, ultimately, wins players respect.

The president of baseball operations was looking for someone with a backbone who could connect with players without enabling them. It will be interesting to see what happens when Alfonso Soriano stands at home plate admiring his shot or Starlin Castro fails to hustle after a ball he booted.

Youre trying to create a situation where the other team knows how you play that game, Sveum said. The worst thing that happens in baseball is when we look over and (say): Theyre dogs. Nobody plays hard over there.

You want to have catchers fear you when youre coming into home plate and not just take an easy way out and slide. That was one thing I think we established in Milwaukee. (Win or lose), they knew they were at least in a fistfight.

Sveum doesnt want to hear about the day games or the facilities or what happened in the past. These are the things managers say their first day on the job, but its exactly what Cubs fans want to hear.

Everybodys got excuses, Sveum said. Thats just a cop-out or your own insecurities if youre whining about things.

Sveum is now working for an organization sensitive to its public image and a front office that wants to control the information. It was disorienting to hear him call catcher Geovany Soto an average thrower and describe pitcher Randy Wells as easy to run on.

From Sveums perspective, those are just the details that will help you get better. You cant just let it slide because youre in the big leagues. His first coaching job in the majors came in 2004 on a Red Sox team that had Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez and won the World Series.

He came into (Bostons) superstar culture and he didnt back down at all, general manager Jed Hoyer said. He earned that respect right away. And I think some of the players at first were like: Whats this guy doing? He never backed down and the guys really embraced it.

Sveum, who will turn 48 next week, certainly saw enough of the Cubs across the years as a utility player who found a way after shattering his leg and a Brewers coach looking for every possible edge.

Sveum has three tattoos honoring his late father, who served in the Marines. One is what the son heard before he walked out the door going to a game: Give em hell. Another is a rattlesnake with the words: Pain is inevitable, suffering is just an option.

This could be the counterweight to a young, polished front office. And a sledgehammer through the clubhouse.

Whether its physical, whether its mental, Sveum said, suffering is your option if you want to whine and cry about it.

Yu Darvish and Cubs pull off dramatic comeback win over Dodgers

Yu Darvish and Cubs pull off dramatic comeback win over Dodgers

There were some added stakes to Saturday night’s Cubs-Dodgers matchup. Darvish made his first start at Dodger Stadium since his infamous Game 7 loss in the 2017 World Series, looking for a great effort in front of a fan base that had their up-and-downs in terms of their relationship with him. He (maybe) took a small jab at the Dodgers before the game had even started, telling the Los Angeles Times that he wasn't worried about being booed because “the Dodgers don't have many fans here in the first three innings, so maybe it will be on the quieter side.”

Well Dodgers faithful certainly got the message and made sure to let Darvish hear it.

However, Darvish got the last laugh on Saturday night. He pitched a stellar seven innings. Over those seven innings, Darvish gave up 1 ER on 2 hits and also notched 10 strikeouts.

Darvish has been hitting his stride as of late, maintaining a 2.96 ERA over his last four starts.

All of that being said, it would be remiss of me not to mention the contributions of Darvish’s teammates. His great outing helped keep the Cubs in the game, but the gutsy performances of Anthony Rizzo and Pedro Strop are what won the contest.

Dodgers All-Star relief pitcher Kenley Jansen had a 10-game scoreless streak coming into Saturday night, but one swing of Rizzo’s bat was all that was needed to restore balance to the everlasting battle of pitcher versus hitter. After Jansen hit Kris Bryant with a pitch to put him on base, Rizzo activated “clutch mode”, mashing a 400-foot bomb out to right field.

Though small, Saturday night’s homer gives Rizzo a three-game hitting streak, perhaps forecasting that things are trending  upwards for the first baseman as the Cubs look to close out the series against the Dodgers with a win on Sunday night. And not to be left out of the fun, Pedro Strop came in to face the Justin Turner, MVP hopeful Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Matt Beaty to nail down the save.

Never afraid of high-pressure moments, Stop came through big time.

Strop got a ground out from Turner, struck out Bellinger and Beaty in his 15-pitch save effort. This was a much-needed win for the Cubs, who have well-documented struggles on the road. As they look to split the four-game set with the Dodgers on Sunday night, the Cubs can be pleased with their fight this week.

Saturday’s win over the Dodgers was the Cubs first win of the season after trailing through six innings, as they were 0-23 in such situations prior to the victory. Amid a season that has been fraught with injury and general roster construction concerns, it was wonderful to see the Cubs pull out a tough win lead by the much-maligned Darvish and the never-quit attitude of his teammates.

Cubs put Kyle Hendricks on 10-Day IL

Cubs put Kyle Hendricks on 10-Day IL

On Saturday, the Cubs announced that they are placing starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks on the 10-day I.L.with right shoulder inflammation. 

Following Hendricks' injury, the Cubs recalled right-handed pitcher Rowan Wick from Triple-A. Wick will be available on Saturday night and beyond, as the Cubs continue their four-game series against the Dodgers. 

This obviously a significant blow for the Cubs, as Hendricks is the team leader in innings pitched (88.1).

Prior to his loss on Friday night, Hendricks had won three straight outings, giving up less than 3 ER in each game. 

The Cubs have plenty of options to replace Hendricks for the time being. With an off day until Monday, they could keep their rotation intact. Tyler Chatwood and Mike Montgomery are options, and the Cubs could push Hendricks next start back to by going with a spot starter. 

Stellar pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay is another intriuging option, and he is coming off of a great outing with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. On Fridaym he racked up 9 strikeouts, giving up 8 hits and 2 ER. 

The 24-year old Alzolay is ranked as the Cubs' fourth-overall prospect and the Hendricks injury could open the door for Alzolay to get called up.

The more likely scenario is that Cubs manager Joe Maddon chooses to use Chatwood. 

Chatwood is the only pitcher outside of the everyday rotation to have made a start this year and is the most obvious stopgap solution until we get further updates on Hendricks' status.