Dusty to Sveum: Good luck, youll need it


Dusty to Sveum: Good luck, youll need it

MESA, Ariz. It will take years before Theo Epsteins scouting and player development machine is up and running.

The buzz the Cubs generated with this hire will eventually wear off and everyone will see just how patient the fans will be with a rebuilding project.

Patience is a real virtue here, Dusty Baker said Monday. Theyve been patient for a hundred years. Thats a hard sell in Chicago more patience. They might be patient for a little while, but unlike any other place Ive been, people count. They can add real good in Chicago. Everybody men, women and children.

Thats a century and counting since winning the World Series, which has made this job so appealing, frustrating and disappointing. The Cubs are on their third manager in the past 19 months. The Cincinnati Reds manager gets asked about and compared to each one.

Baker once had the Cubs five outs away from the 2003 National League pennant. Baker likes Dale Sveum, wishes him luck and wants to beat him 16 times this season.

Sveum believes this job is different, but only to a certain point. He says its nothing he hasnt really seen before after wearing a New York Yankees uniform and coaching alongside Terry Francona with the Boston Red Sox.

The history and all that goes along with Chicago and the Cubs, Sveum said, of course its different than managing some small markets. Theres no question about it. Thats the way it is here and in Boston and New York and the big markets. Theres no doubt its different.

Theres more media. Theres more scrutinizing. Theres going to be the second-guessing of everything. Theres going to be all that. Its nothing you dont know. Its not like Ive never been in a big market before. You know what all goes on.

Sveum can be blunt, his voice is monotone and he doesnt appear to have any nervous energy. Hes about to find out what life is like inside the Wrigley Field fishbowl.

It depends on how they do, Baker said. You got to wait awhile before you make that assessment. Give him a couple years. He might say the same things.

Baker had just guided the San Francisco Giants to the 2002 World Series when he moved to the North Side. He had been a big-league manager for the previous 10 seasons, and played almost two decades in the majors. He still didnt quite know what he was getting into (the same could be said for Lou Piniella).

The national anthem is my favorite time of the day, Baker said. During those three hours, the games the same. The difference is what happens and whats entailed before the game and after the game. Thats the difference and the vibes that you get, positively and negatively, from everything involved.

Baker pushed the right buttons as the Cubs won the division in 2003. The Bartman Game jacked up expectations, but the team slowly spiraled downward. A last-place finish in 2006 got Baker fired and triggered a huge Tribune Co. shopping spree.

In 04, we kind of stood pat and even subtracted, Baker said. We didnt reload. That would have been the time to reload when youre getting close. They reloaded after I left. That was the only regret.

Epstein says the Cubs are going to be a sustainable organization, not a team that gets lucky one year and then disappears. There will be growing pains to get there. The president of baseball operations recognized in Sveum some of the same qualities he once saw in Francona.

It sounds like Sveum plans to be more insulated from the media than Piniella or Mike Quade, who seemed to want to take the pulse of the city. Sveum isnt on Twitter, doesnt follow blogs and wont listen to talk radio.

I dont do anything like that now, so Im not going to start, Sveum said. Basically, all I know how to do is get on the Internet and check scores on my phone and e-mail a little bit. But Im not searching out articles. To me, that doesnt even make sense why you would read good or bad (stuff). Obviously, we know theres going to be more bad than good, so its kind of irrelevant to look at (that).

I got better things to do than seek out articles on myself or the team. Im living the team the nine innings every single night. (I) dont have to look to find out what somebody else thinks. I know whats going on.

Welcome to Chicago, where everyone questions about the lineup, little things become big news and the interview room feels like a dungeon. Just ask Baker.

Cubs hoping Kyle Schwarber can make World Series comeback

Cubs hoping Kyle Schwarber can make World Series comeback

As if the possibility of clinching their first National League pennant in 71 years didn’t create enough drama and excitement in Wrigleyville, the Cubs have sent Kyle Schwarber to the Arizona Fall League, hoping he can add another chapter to his October legend.
Schwarber earned this chance after beating every expectation in his recovery from major surgery on his left knee in April. The Cubs haven’t ruled anything in or out – and still need to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers one more time this weekend – but they want to see how he responds on Saturday with the Mesa Solar Sox and ultimately decide if he would be a viable designated-hitter option for the World Series.
Schwarber gained clearance on Monday from Dr. Daniel Cooper, the head team physician for the Dallas Cowboys who reconstructed his ACL and repaired his LCL after a devastating outfield collision during the first week of the regular season. Schwarber immediately phoned president of baseball operations Theo Epstein after the six-month checkup.   
“I wasn’t expecting the call,” Epstein said. “We got news that was beyond better than we could have expected by any reasonable standard. 
“He asked for a chance to do this. And with as hard as Kyle has worked and as much as this means to him – and potentially to us – we wanted to give him that opportunity.”

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Schwarber flew from Dallas to Los Angeles, where he hit in the cage at Dodger Stadium that night. As the Cubs continued with what has been a classic NL Championship Series, Schwarber hit again on Tuesday and then left for Arizona on Wednesday to ramp up his baseball activities and prove whether or not he could again be a difference-maker in October.
Schwarber, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 draft out of Indiana University, generated 16 home runs in 69 games last season and then set a franchise record with five homers in the playoffs. 

The Cubs still have to deal with Clayton Kershaw on Saturday night in Game 6, and judge whether or not a this layoff is too long, even for one of their best young hitters, especially against what would be a dynamic Cleveland Indians pitching staff.
But the Cubs would also never bet against Schwarber.

“We’ll see where this goes,” Epstein said. “We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. We have a lot of work to do here before this becomes pertinent. But it’s a testament to how hard Kyle has worked to even be in this position where it’s a possibility.”  

On the doorstep of history, Cubs set lineup for NLCS Game 6

On the doorstep of history, Cubs set lineup for NLCS Game 6

One win away from the World Series, the Cubs set their lineup for Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.

The big surprise is Albert Almora Jr. in right field with Jason Heyward and Jorge Soler on the bench against Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher on the planet.

Soler is 0-for-8 during the postseason with a pair of walks and three strikeouts while appearing in six games.

Heyward is only 2-for-28 (.071 AVG) and has only reached base once (on a hit by pitch) in the last four NLCS games while going 0-for-13 in that span.

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Almora is also hitless this postseason - in six at-bats - but is an excellent fielder and laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt in the Cubs' Game 5 victory.

Here is the rest of the Cubs' lineup behind Kyle Hendricks:

1. Dexter Fowler - CF
2. Kris Bryant - 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
4. Ben Zobrist - LF
5. Javy Baez - 2B
6. Willson Contreras - C
7. Addison Russell - SS
8. Albert Almora Jr. - RF
9. Kyle Hendricks - P

The Cubs notched just two hits and did not score in seven innings against Kershaw in Game 2 at Wrigley Field. Baez and Contreras collected the only two singles in that game.

The Cubs offense has scored 18 runs the last two games after being shut out for both Games 2 and 3.

With a win, the Cubs would punch their ticket to the World Series for the first time in 71 years.

The Dodgers are shaking things up a bit in the lineup against Hendricks:

1. Andrew Toles - LF
2. Corey Seager - SS
3. Justin Turner - 3B
4. Adrian Gonzalez - 1B
5. Josh Reddick - RF
6. Joc Pederson - CF
7. Yasmani Grandal - C
8. Chase Utley - 2B
9. Clayton Kershaw - P

Toles is only 48 regular-season games into his big-league career, but he is hitting .368 this postseason with a .908 OPS. 

Utley has been leading off against right-handers, but he's hitting only .115 this postseason and doesn't have a hit in this NLCS (0-for-10).