Mooney: Cubs can't change who Garza is

Mooney: Cubs can't change who Garza is

Sunday, April 10, 2011
Posted: 3:51 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MILWAUKEE Mike Quade and Matt Garza looked at the same game and came to completely different conclusions.

Quade sat in the managers office Saturday night after a 6-0 loss and riffed on how Garza will only be as good as his soft game. A few minutes later, Garza stood up in front of his locker and wished he had used more hard stuff against the Brewers.

There may not be a total disconnect, and its too early for real friction to develop. As Garza quickly reminded everyone, this was only Game No. 8, no time to panic.

But Garza can be stubborn and has a clear idea of what he wants on the mound and what he needs to do between starts. The Cubs cant change who he is, nor do they want to.

Hes going to be an aggressive pitcher, pitching coach Mark Riggins said. Hes going to come after the hitter. His location has to be on pretty good every pitch that he throws.

Garza blamed only himself and kept score in his head. He pushed Prince Fielder to an 0-2 count three times and lost each confrontation, the Brewers slugger putting three doubles and four RBI on the board.

Garza recalled six of Milwaukees eight hits coming off breaking or offspeed pitches. That along with an intentional walk burned Garza and offended his idea of what pitching should be all about.

They didnt beat me with my power game, Garza said. They beat me with the soft stuff.

Garza was supposed to benefit by moving out of the American League East and missing those loaded lineups at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park.

Through two starts, Garza is 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA. Hes made hitters swing and miss (20 strikeouts). But when they make contact, there have been line drives all over the field (20 hits).

Riggins thinks its mostly location, but at times pitch selection has also become an issue. The conditions are in place for Garza to succeed. It will just take some time.

Cubs pitchers trust Geovany Soto and love throwing to their catcher. Carlos Pena Garzas teammate in Tampa Bay is there to run over from first base to try to calm him down. Garza can go over all the scouting reports, but he needs to see the National League up close and for himself.

He has his style of pitching. That style has been successful for him in the past and we have to make adjustments along the way, Riggins said. (Does) he need to make major adjustments? No, its just very minor stuff.

Its knowing the hitters and knowing what their approach is against him. He needs to recognize that and well find a happy medium (with) whats working for him and the club.

Riggins doesnt have any gimmicks. He doesnt try to sell himself as a guru. He listens and asks questions. The coach wants to know the keys or tells to a pitchers delivery, what it looks like when he feels just right.

With his eyes shielded by sunglasses, Riggins stands with his arms folded and watches a pitchers side session. He makes observations and suggestions and plays psychologist when necessary. He has a good relationship with Garza that will continue evolving.

Quades amazed by Garzas energy and intensity and thinks the 27-year-old pitcher probably didnt need to be so critical of his performance. The Cubs, after all, scored zero runs. And the manager doesnt see fastballs and the soft game as an eitheror deal.

Garza wont be judged by the radar gun. Hell have to pitch his way out of it.

His mix of pitches is going to be important for him to be successful, Quade said. The sooner he gets into a good mix, the better.

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

Kyle Schwarber has rocky start to Triple-A stint

Kyle Schwarber has rocky start to Triple-A stint

The Cubs gave Kyle Schwarber time to sort things out by sending him down to Triple-A Iowa, and Schwarber's first game back in the minors shows he may need some time.

Schwarber's first game with the Iowa Cubs was a forgettable one. He struck out in his first three plate appearances before singling in his last at-bat. He struck out looking in the first inning before striking out swinging his next two times up.

Schwarber batted third in the lineup and played left field. Iowa won 1-0 against the New Orleans Baby Cakes.

He last played for Iowa in 2015, but only spent 17 games there. He hit .333 with three homers and a 1.036 OPS in that short stint. Before getting sent down Schwarber was hitting .171 with the Cubs with 12 home runs, but also 75 strikeouts in 64 games.

Cubs show why they are defending champs while Nationals still have something to prove

Cubs show why they are defending champs while Nationals still have something to prove

WASHINGTON – The Cubs already visited the White House. The Washington Nationals are still the team with so much more to prove.

Dusty Baker needs this October to cement his spot in Cooperstown, the way Joe Maddon put the final bullet point on his Hall of Fame resume. Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant took different routes out of Las Vegas, but only one has the World Series ring to go with the Rookie of the Year/MVP hardware. While the clock is ticking on Max Scherzer and that championship parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, the Jon Lester megadeal essentially paid for itself.

Cubs vs. Nationals is supposed to be a circle-your-calendar event. Except the Cubs rolled out a Cactus League lineup on Monday night and Nationals Park featured rows and rows of empty seats amid a crowd of 29,651 where the celebrity vibe became more George Will than A-Rod and J-Lo.

The Cubs still hung on for a 5-4 victory that might have been their best under-the-circumstances win in a season that will hit the halfway point this weekend, showing why they’re the defending champs.

“It is exciting – don’t get me wrong,” Maddon said. “It’s just that we’re attending with a different group than we thought we would be attending this party with.

“And that’s OK, because these guys now are getting the kind of experience that is going to be very beneficial to us in August and September.”

A rash of injuries forced the Cubs to start Jeimer Candelario at third base and Mark Zagunis in right field and Javier Baez kept making highlight-reel plays while Addison Russell rested his sore right shoulder, leaping to grab to a Harper line drive and racing across the left-field line and sliding into the wall to make another spectacular catch in foul territory.

“Games like this is what we need right now – competition,” said Baez, who struck out in his first three at-bats and finished at 2-for-5. “Playing tight games like this will make us make adjustments better and be more in the game.”

With Kyle Schwarber more than 1,000 miles away in Des Moines and hitting the reset button at Triple-A Iowa, Willson Contreras became the leadoff hitter of the day and launched Gio Gonzalez’s fifth pitch of the game into the left-field seats.

The young Cubs manufactured their next run in the eighth inning when Baez stole third base and scored on Albert Almora Jr.’s perfectly placed bunt into the no man’s land between the pitcher’s mound and the first-base line. The bullpen is Washington’s Achilles’ heel and showed with a three-run meltdown in the ninth inning.

Eddie Butler – who began the season in the Iowa rotation – neutralized a powerful Washington lineup while getting just one strikeout in five innings. Maddon pushed a lot of bullpen buttons, not going to Wade Davis for a four-out save and then summoning the All-Star closer when Hector Rondon couldn’t work with a five-run cushion.

In a dramatic finish, Davis survived giving up three hits, a walk and a wild pitch, striking out Ryan Zimmerman with a curveball to end a game that lasted 3 hours and 54 minutes.

“To play so well and not win that game would have really been awful,” Maddon said.

The Cubs needed this with Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg looming the next two nights. But for all of their talent and regular-season dominance – three division titles since 2012 and close to a 100-win pace this year – the Nationals still haven’t won a playoff series in a city where the Senators once won it all in 1924.

This could be an epic matchup in October, bursting with stars and pumping with bad blood. Just listen to Baker during his pregame media briefing, responding to a question about a power hitter like Anthony Rizzo batting leadoff: “I ain’t worried about the Cubs. They can do their thing.”

Or Baker dismissing Maddon’s mind games and the possibility of intentionally walking Harper when Ryan Zimmerman is a Triple Crown contender: “It’s a new time and a new day.”

The last word from Maddon, who keeps insisting the 39-37 Cubs have a hot streak in them and that he digs the youth movement: “If this was a spring training lineup, we might get a call.”