Cubs will find out what they're made of

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Cubs will find out what they're made of

Thursday, April 7, 2011
Posted 7:27 p.m.
By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Tony La Russa has already gone viral in 2011, storming away from the podium after ranting about how: Its the first week of the season!

WATCH: La Russa quits his press conference

Each manager deals with the stress in his own way. La Russa has the juice to pull that off in St. Louis, and there is roughly 96 percent of the schedule left to play.

When Lou Piniella called you sir, you knew he was seething inside. Mike Quade still addresses reporters by their first name, and it doesnt take much effort for him to put a positive spin on the days news.

The Cubs have lost 40 percent of their rotation. Theyve so far scored 26 runs and allowed 26. They play in a city where every bullpen and pinch-hit decision is second-guessed. If that wears on the manager, he hasnt let it show yet.

I always say its about the process of giving yourself a chance to win every game. Quade said. Ive said all along: If we play intelligent baseball and we get a quality effort every game, the rest of its supposed to take care of itself. I certainly cant go back on that now (because) we had a 3-3 homestand.

The Cubs live in their own bubble and thats the only way to make it through 162 games. With pitchers Randy Wells (forearm) and Andrew Cashner (rotator cuff) heading to the disabled list, they will have to move on to a nine-game, three-city trip that begins on Friday in Milwaukee.

There are no negatives at all, outfielder Marlon Byrd said. Now its time to go on the road and see what were made of.

From here until April 17, the Cubs will have to go through the Brewers, a trendy pick in the National League Central. Theyll head to Houston, where on Tuesday night theyll need a new fifth starter. Then theyll have to deal with the Rockies and three games in Denvers thin mountain air.

By then, everyone will have forgotten that the Cubs were almost injury-free in spring training. The Cardinals had to put a brave face on Adam Wainwrights Tommy John surgery. The Brewers had to make excuses for Zack Greinke, who cracked a rib while playing pickup basketball.

When they heard about that, the Cubs didnt gloat. They knew that the injuries would balance out over the next six months they just didnt think it would happen this soon.

Unbelievable, thats the way this game is its become such a matter of health, general manager Jim Hendry said. Sooner or later, You have to overcome adversity to be in the hunt. ... Were going to get ours a little unexpectedly in April.

Through six games, the Cubs have committed five errors and stolen zero bases. Starlin Castro the youngest player in the majors shows his inexperience but still looks like an elite shortstop.

Alfonso Soriano has launched three homers and Aramis Ramirez is hitting .333. Yet that only added up to a split against the Pirates and Diamondbacks, two last-place teams in 2010.

We can be better, Soriano said.

It could be worse. Publicly, the Cubs are trying to be philosophical about the whole situation.

Wells was accommodating and patient with the media while laying out his timeline a little soreness after his final spring training start, but nothing through his side session or while warming up in the bullpen before Mondays game. But even he had trouble pinpointing a reason.

Its hard to explain, Wells said. I know you guys are looking for the answer, and I am, too, but its just one of those freak things. As disappointing as it is, I think were going to came away a lot stronger.

That means its time for the Cubs to raise their game. The front office has invested tons of capital in Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza, and theyll carry the rotation the first two nights at Miller Park.

This much is certain the answers will start coming quick. At a certain point, you cant say its still early in the season.

Were going to see what were made of, Wells said.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Report: Dexter Fowler closing in on deal with Cardinals

Report: Dexter Fowler closing in on deal with Cardinals

Dexter Fowler won't be making a surprise return to the Cubs next season.

Fowler is closing in on a deal to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

The Cubs signed outfielder Jon Jay last week to a one-year deal, pretty much sealing Fowler's future with the Cubs.

In two seasons in Chicago, Fowler batted .261/.367/.427 with 30 home runs and 94 RBI, and a World Series ring.

Koji Uehara would add another dimension to Cubs bullpen

Koji Uehara would add another dimension to Cubs bullpen

The Cubs are reportedly on the verge of adding another pitcher who’s notched the final out of a World Series as Theo Epstein’s front office builds out the bullpen for manager Joe Maddon.

The Cubs are nearing a one-year, $4.5 million deal with Koji Uehara, according to Nikkan Sports in Japan, which would open up even more possibilities for the defending champs in front of All-Star closer Wade Davis.

The Cubs made their biggest splash during this week’s winter meetings at National Harbor in Maryland by trading young outfielder Jorge Soler to the Kansas City Royals for Davis, who finished off Game 5 in the 2015 World Series.

Uehara closed out the 2013 World Series for the Boston Red Sox, the beginning of three straight seasons where he put up 20-plus saves. The Cubs have not confirmed an agreement is in place.

The Cubs needed another lefty presence with Mike Montgomery – the pitcher on the mound when the 108-year drought ended in November – moving to the rotation and Travis Wood likely leaving as a free agent.

Uehara throws right-handed, but he shuts down left-handed hitters (.183 batting average, .555 OPS across 800 at-bats) and has appeared in seven postseason series after a distinguished career in Japan.

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Uehara will turn 42 the day after Opening Day. But an array of relievers should help preserve Uehara, strengthen Carl Edwards Jr. (who’s generously listed at 170 pounds) and maybe prevent the late-season injuries that marginalized Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop during the playoffs.

“We’re going to try to build up a ton of depth,” Epstein said. “We’re going to try to build up a really talented, deep bullpen with a lot of different options that you can use in close games.

“Instead of three late-game options, it would be ideal if you had five or six. And you could always like who you’re turning to in the ‘pen and not feel the need to use a Rondon four out of five times.

“(We could) use them every other day and occasional back-to-backs. And that would help keep them fresh down the stretch – and help keep them strong in October.”