Sveum, Bowden and the question marks around the Cubs


Sveum, Bowden and the question marks around the Cubs

MESA, Ariz. Cubs executives thought there were enough media demands in this market to make potential managers meet with reporters as part of the interview process, just the way Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer had set it up in Boston.

Its not uncommon for Dale Sveum to do four or five rounds of media interviews in a single day here in Arizona. The first-year manager puts a face to the narrative.

Less than two weeks to Opening Day, the story is whos in, whos out and whos on the bubble. The feeling throughout camp was that the Cubs want to see Chris Volstad and Jeff Samardzija in the rotation.

Sveum went a step further on Saturday when he appeared on MLB Network Radio with Jim Bowden, the former Cincinnati Reds general manager, and talked about the rotation beyond Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Paul Maholm.

Volstads been throwing the heck out of the ball, so Im not going to see that anything can change there, Sveum said on SiriusXM. That fifth spot Samardzija, (Randy) Wells, (Rodrigo) Lopez theyre all fighting (with) Travis Wood.

But Maholm and Volstad are throwing the ball too good and the command has been unbelievable this spring. So thats probably just the one spot thats open right now.

So it became news when Bowden went on Twitter and reported that Volstad has made the rotation. Afterward, when beat writers asked him about those comments in the managers office, Sveum (who was clearly annoyed) tried to clarify.

The Volstad thing obviously his name came up but theres nothing etched in stone there, Sveum said. I think what I said (was): Obviously, if he keeps throwing the ball the way hes throwing the ball, hes going to be hard to keep out of the rotation.

It doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

The Cubs bullpen is also filled with question marks. Kerry Wood hasnt appeared in a Cactus League game since March 18. Sveum said theres no issue.

Were just mainly backing him off (before) getting him a couple more outings before the season starts, Sveum said. The back flares up once in awhile, but thats not a concern now. Hes fine.

The MRI came back negative on Marcos Mateo no ligament damage but he wont throw a ball for around 10 days, taking him out of the Opening Day mix. Mateo is said to be experiencing something similar to the right elbow soreness he felt when he was shut down last July.

Sveum has been asked about the pitching staff for five weeks now, and indicated that hed make some announcements around Wednesday.

On Twitter, Bowden said that Sveum told him the bullpen will include Wood, Carlos Marmol, James Russell, Rafael Dolis and Casey Coleman. Sveum told the Chicago media that Colemans name wasnt even mentioned in his conversation with Bowden.

Sveum has repeatedly said that Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo a converted infielder who has never pitched above A-ball has impressed the organization with his poise and command. Carrying Castillo on the 25-man roster and not returning him to the Philadelphia Phillies is a possibility.

Hes obviously (made us think) this could be a reality, Sveum said.

Theres no disputing that the 24-year-old Dolis has opened eyes and could emerge as a key bullpen piece.

Dolis has had a great camp, just unbelievable stuff, 95 to 97 mph with power sink and command of a slider, Sveum told Bowden. Hes that guy (who) hitters dont like facing. Theres just too much movement, too much velocity and he keeps the ball down. Hes there, too, in that seventh-, eighth-(inning) spot.

The media storm always seemed to follow Carlos Zambrano, which makes it such a sharp contrast that he was traded for the low-key Volstad, whos 6-foot-8 and yet still blends easily into the background.

I dont have an account. Why? Volstad said when a reporter asked if hes on Twitter. I hadnt heard anything. I was getting ready to throw in a minor-league game. I wasnt really paying attention to any of that.

Volstad went six innings down the street at Fitch Park and has so far reinforced what the Cubs think he could be in their rotation. In 10 Cactus League innings, hes allowed one run and has seven strikeouts and no walks.

Its not like I can control the decision, Volstad said, but I feel pretty good where Im at right now.

Complete Cubs-Dodgers NLCS Game 6 coverage on CSN

Complete Cubs-Dodgers NLCS Game 6 coverage on CSN

Tune in to CSN at 6 p.m. for a postseason edition of Cubs Postseason Live as our crew gets ready for Game 6 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field. Be sure to flip over to CSN immediately after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postseason Live.

Saturday's starting pitching matchup: Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 3.72 ERA) vs. Kyle Hendricks (0-1, 3.00 ERA)

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Same mistakes resurface

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Same mistakes resurface

COLUMBUS, Ohio – We’ll save you some time tonight. The Blackhawks lost another one in familiar fashion. You can guess what our focus will be, so let’s get right to it.

Here are Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

1. We’re trying not to pick on the penalty kill again, but… it cost them again. The Blackhawks gave up their 10th and 11th power-play goals in their first five games on Friday night. Opponents are planting themselves in front of Corey Crawford and, be it screens or tips, they’re capitalizing. Long-distance shots are getting through far too often. “I think our focus always has to be 5-on-5. When our effort and our energy and our work ethic is there it usually translates into our special teams and I don’t know. It’s frustrating," Jonathan Toews said. "We definitely have to keep pushing to find a solution. Even when it seems like we’re doing a good job bounces go against us. We deserve all the criticism and we just have to keep finding ways, dig deep and really try to dig ourselves out of this thing.”

2. The seven-defenseman set. Quenneville didn’t want Trevor van Riemsdyk sitting out too long, and for a few days it looked like Brian Campbell was going to be the odd-man out tonight. Instead the Blackhawks went with seven, which gave them the chance to rotate and put Campbell back on his natural left. With that, however, the forward lines were naturally skewed. Patrick Kane played nearly 29 minutes. Quenneville said earlier this season that it wouldn’t be something the Blackhawks would try often. Speaking of van Riemsdyk…

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Van Riemsdyk hurt again. You have to feel for van Riemsdyk. He finally got healthy last season playing in all 82 games after knee and wrist injuries sidelined him the previous one. Now it looks like he’ll be out again after he went hard into the net late in the second period. Van Riemsdyk got tangled up and his right arm/shoulder collided with the post.

4. Tyler Motte gets his first. The University of Michigan product scored his first career NHL goal, a rebound off a Toews shot in the second period. Considering the game’s outcome, however, Motte’s enthusiasm was tempered. “It was exciting. It felt good to chip in offensively but obviously the real story is us losing another game,” he said. “We were better in the offensive zone but there are still some things to improve on. The most important thing is winning games.”

5. Brandon Saad great but stymied. The former Blackhawks left wing had some tremendous scoring opportunities on Friday. He had a team-high seven shots, most high quality, but Crawford stopped him every time. Just in case anyone needed a reminder of what the kid is capable of, regardless of which sweater he’s wearing.