The next Cubs-Red Sox showdown could be over Sveum

579712.png

The next Cubs-Red Sox showdown could be over Sveum

MILWAUKEE Dale Sveum believes you should never let the players see how youre feeling inside. He thinks thats a clear sign of weakness for a manager.

Sveum will need a good poker face when he arrives at the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Because the Brewers hitting coach was scheduled to meet again with Cubs executives, perhaps as early as Tuesday night, before sitting down on Wednesday with the Red Sox at the meetings for owners and general managers.

So while Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington continue negotiating over compensation Bostons general manager is still optimistic commissioner Bud Selig wont have to arbitrate the next showdown between the Cubs and Red Sox could be over Sveum.

Sveum is viewed as the heavy favorite in Boston, where he worked as the third-base coach on the forever team that ended an 86-year championship drought and made Epstein a legend throughout New England.

The Cubs followed-up again with Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, who declined to interview in Boston because it would have created too much distance between his wife and two college-age daughters in Texas.

It sounded like the family still hasnt given a final answer as to whether they could make it work in Chicago.

Its still something that hes weighing. Those considerations havent gone away, general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. Its certainly a big factor. I think its a factor for everyone, (but) in this case, it probably weighs a little more heavily.

Hoyer does not see another candidate being added to the mix. Beyond Maddux and Sveum, the Cubs have interviewed bench coaches Sandy Alomar Jr. (Indians) and Pete Mackanin (Phillies) in person and DeMarlo Hale (Red Sox) by phone.

Sources insist that Terry Francona is not a serious candidate, and hasnt been eliminated from consideration publicly out of respect for the two World Series rings he helped Epstein win in Boston. Epstein has been in contact with Francona, who hasnt spoken with Hoyer during this entire process.

The Cubs and Red Sox wont admit it publicly, but they soon may have to pull the trigger.

The right person to be manager for the Red Sox in 2012 is not necessarily the right person to be manager for the Cubs, Cherington said. They are different jobs, different challenges.

Theyre doing what they need to do and were doing what we need to do. The decisions too important to react to what somebody else is doing. (We) got to take our time and get the right person.

Even with that, theres no silver bullet. (You) got to surround that person with the right people.

That supporting cast will be important because the next managers at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park will almost certainly have little-to-no experience managing at the highest level.

The list of guys that have managed and are available is fairly short, Cherington said. Most successful major-league managers are still successful major-league managers. So we wanted to find the right fit. We feel like we have to at least consider taking a chance on someone who hasnt done it (before).

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin promoted Sveum after Ned Yost was fired late in the 2008 season and watched his team clinch the wild card.

Melvin passed over Sveum because he wanted a new face in the dugout and didnt believe thered necessarily be a carryover effect to the next year with an interim manager. The Cubs certainly found that out with Mike Quade.

Sveum also lost out to Ron Roenicke last year, but it speaks to his knowledge and personality that he survived so many regime changes in Milwaukee.

The word out of Boston and Milwaukee is that Sveum isnt particularly polished in front of the cameras, and wont charm the media with stories. But he absolutely commands respect in the clubhouse. It could be his time now.

Every player that plays in the big leagues was a rookie once, Melvin said, and every guy that manages in the big leagues had to get his start somewhere.

Epstein and Hoyer feel like theyre nearing the decision-making phase where they can put their choice in front of the Ricketts family. They probably would have done this with Sveum over the phone, but he was coming to Milwaukee anyway to see the Red Sox, in whats become a great off-the-field rivalry.

Were not focusing on the Red Sox and what theyre doing, Hoyer said. Were trying to make sure we make the right decision for the Cubs.

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

Brett Anderson’s personality mixing well with Cubs: ‘I don’t hate anybody yet’

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Joe Maddon's T-shirt slogans can get a little old at times, but the Cubs manager found a new audience in Brett Anderson, who liked the idea of "Be Uncomfortable" after signing a one-year, prove-it deal with the defending champs.

"It's been awesome so far," Anderson said. "That's my running joke – we're a month into it now or whatever it is – and I don't hate anybody yet.

"That's a testament to the group as a whole – and maybe me evolving as a person."

Yes, Anderson's sarcasm, social-media presence and groundball style fits in with a team built around short-term pitching and Gold Glove defense. The if-healthy lefty finished his Cactus League tour on Saturday afternoon by throwing four innings (one unearned run) during a 7-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies in front of 13,565 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Anderson will open the season as the No. 4 starter after a camp that has been remarkably low-key and drama-free.

"I'm kind of cynical by nature, but it's a fun group to be a part of," Anderson said, "(with) young guys that are exciting and happy to be here. And then obviously the mix of veterans, too, that are here with intentions of winning another World Series."

To make that happen, the pitching staff will have to again stay unbelievably healthy. Anderson rolled with a general question about how he physically feels now compared to where he's usually at by this time of year.

"Obviously better than last year, because I was walking with a gimp and all that stuff," said Anderson, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a bulging disk in his lower back last March. "No, my body feels good, my arm feels good and you're getting into the dog days of spring training where you're itching to get to the real thing."

Joe Maddon breaks down the Matt Szczur vs. Tommy La Stella decision for Cubs

Joe Maddon breaks down the Matt Szczur vs. Tommy La Stella decision for Cubs

MESA, Ariz. – Matt Szczur vs. Tommy La Stella appears to be the final decision as the Cubs shape their Opening Night roster.

That's assuming good health – manager Joe Maddon sounded unconcerned about Ben Zobrist (stiff neck), Addison Russell (stiff back) and Albert Almora Jr. (stiff neck) – and the Cubs carrying an eight-man bullpen.

Maddon appeared to eliminate one variable, confirming that La Stella has signaled a willingness to go to Triple-A Iowa if necessary, which would normally be an obvious statement, except for last summer's "Where's Tommy?" episode.

"I haven't even thought about it," Maddon said during Saturday's media session at the Sloan Park complex. "It's not an issue. I thought we handled it pretty openly last year and there's been no blowback whatsoever from the players."

Beyond this – La Stella initially refused to report to the minors last July, moved back home to New Jersey and talked briefly about retirement – an American League scout and a National League scout tracking the Cubs in Arizona both agreed that Szczur looks like the superior player.

Plus Szczur – and not La Stella – is out of minor-league options now.

"When you get this kind of a talent, depth-wise, it's a wonderful problem to have," Maddon said. "And then, of course, the rules start creeping in. The rules in this situation would benefit Matt, which is a good thing, because he's a big-league guy that's been riding the shuttle. He's done it in a very stoic manner, and he's been great for us."

La Stella has allies in the clubhouse – Jake Arrieta got a Coastal Carolina tattoo on his right butt cheek after losing a College World Series bet – and goes about his routine in a quiet, diligent manner.

La Stella is not a distraction at all and can hit left-handed and play the infield – two attributes that Szczur can't bring to Maddon's bench.

"Matt Szczur, to me, is a Major League Baseball player," Maddon said. "You're seeing what Tommy can do from the left side of the plate right now. And then it's just a matter of balancing things out. We've already mentioned that some guys on the infield can play the outfield within this group, thus it presents differently regarding what you need."

[MORE CUBS: Javier Baez won’t change his style around Cubs after World Baseball Classic: ‘We’re not showing anybody up’]

Szczur is hitting .361 with a .994 OPS through 14 Cactus League games and can play all over the outfield. But that skill is diminished when the Cubs already have four established outfielders plus Zobrist and Kris Bryant able to shift from the infield.

Then again, defensive wizard Javier Baez should have the Cubs covered all across the infield in case of an emergency. With the defending World Series champs a week out from facing the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, we're about to find out if Maddon made his recommendation or had a possible trade scenario or disabled-list situation in mind.

"I love Matt Szczur," Maddon said. "This guy as a teammate – you're not going to get a better one. Nobody's going to get a better one on any team for any reason.

"We haven't decided everything or anything yet. Stuff happens in a very short period of time. He is a major-league baseball player. So we'll just wait a couple more days, see how it plays out. But he's a benefit to any group that has him."