SAN DIEGO With the volume turned up, three TVs in the Cubs clubhouse showed Ryan Dempsters start at Fenway Park.
All the back-and-forth stories about Dempster vs. the front office and how much he wanted to go to Los Angeles began to overshadow how much they respected him in the room. They watched the first few innings as Dempster beat the Boston Red Sox and won his first game in a Texas Rangers uniform. No one will second-guess his decision if he wins a World Series ring.
As for the waves and waves of pitching that Theo Epstein says you need to have crashing through your system we hardly even have one wave coming thats going to take years. It pushed the Cubs president to trade Dempster and Paul Maholm and try to move Matt Garza at the deadline before an elbow injury changed his market.
After Tuesday nights 7-4 loss to the San Diego Padres, the Cubs (43-65) have now lost seven straight games since the trade deadline. They are writing off the rest of this season as growing pains. That goes for everyone from Brooks Raley to Starlin Castro.
Before the game Raley who wasnt even invited to big-league camp for spring training and opened the season at Double-A Tennessee sat in front of his locker with headphones plugged into his ears. There couldnt have been a better place to make his debut than Petco Park.
I think I belong here, Raley said. I appreciate the opportunity and I plan on taking advantage of it.
Raley made it through two innings before pitcher Ross Ohlendorfs soft single opened the third. A walk and a bunt loaded the bases for Chase Headley, who bounced a two-run single up the middle. Another walk loaded the bases before Everth Cabrera chopped a two-out, two-run single to left.
So Raley wasnt really hit all that hard until the fourth inning, when Carlos Quentin crushed one 391 feet into the left-field seats.
That was kind of like the icing on the cake, Raley said.
Raleys final line was ugly seven runs on eight hits and three walks in four innings but the Cubs like the poise, command and athleticism theyve seen from the 24-year-old left-hander. This will be more than just one spot start in place of Matt Garza.
I dont think you add a guy to the roster for just a one-game audition, manager Dale Sveum said. (Hes) a four-pitch guy that we got to give a look at these last (eight) weeks of the season.
In another part of the clubhouse, Arodys Vizcaino sat by himself. The centerpiece to the MaholmReed Johnson deal with the Atlanta Braves had come to meet with pitching coach Chris Bosio and the training staff to map out the rest of his rehabilitation.
Vizcaino who began the 2012 season as Baseball Americas No. 40 overall prospect is throwing off flat ground after Tommy John surgery and is expected to be ready by spring training in 2013, when he projects to be a potential starter.
The Cubs need pitching to come fast, to go with the core of position players that includes Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters. But theyre all still developing at this level.
Jackson struck out three more times against the Padres (48-64) and has eight strikeouts in his last nine plate appearances. Castro went 0-for-4 and is 0-for-19 on this road trip and slamming equipment.
Until hes willing to make some adjustments, its going to be a constant battle to be consistent hitter, Sveum said. Its just everythings in between, the leg kick, all the hand movement, everything like that, theres got to be some adjustments to center baseballs on a consistent basis.
Castro smiled and nodded his head to the reporters by his locker and all his body language afterward said: Dont worry about it. The All-Star shortstop said what Cubs fans have been hoping for generations.
Tomorrow is the day, Castro said. Im gonna be hot again.