No retreat: Garza won't back down after loss

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No retreat: Garza won't back down after loss

Friday, April 15, 2011
Posted: 10:08 p.m. Updated: 11:57 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

DENVER The anger and the defiance had disappeared by the time Matt Garza stood up in front of his locker. His voice was steady and measured as he looked from here to the end of September.

Its gonna turn I know it is, Garza said late Friday night. I know its a long season. (I have to) keep going out there, keep throwing, keep battling. Thats all I can do. I cant look for some secret answer.

Garzas heart and his fast-twitch muscles urge him to be a power pitcher. Its part of his identity. The Cubs want him to improve his soft game and find a way to finesse hitters, without robbing him of the aggressiveness that made him so successful in the past.

Everyone might have found a balance at Coors Field, but Garza was sabotaged by one bad inning in a 5-0 loss to the Colorado Rockies in front of 30,285 fans.

The 11-2 Rockies baseballs first team to reach double-digit victories are on a seven-game winning streak. For the Cubs (6-7) to get on a roll like that, they will need their frontline pitchers to play up to expectations.

Garza didnt back down and felt like he mixed around his 119 pitches well, but at this point their big offseason get is 0-2 with a 6.27 ERA.

He just keeps competing, manager Mike Quade said. As long as hes making pitches with that mindset hell be fine. It hasnt been a great start for him and he knows that. But hes still working and I still believe hes going to a hell of a pitcher (in) this rotation.

Garza will need to learn the National Leagues hitters, and adjust to playing in a new city and a bigger market, but insists that will not faze him. Whats overlooked in the trade from Tampa Bay is that Garza went from one of the games best defensive teams in 2010 to one of its worst.

This game pivoted with the bases loaded in the second inning. Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta launched an 86 mph slider that soared over Marlon Byrds head and just beyond his glove in center.

Catch-22, Byrd said. You want to play deep, but at the same time (if) he hits a ground ball up the middle, I dont throw the guy out and two runs score. (I) just want to get a better jump next time.

Byrd was playing shallow, and his teammates think of him as a Gold Glove outfielder for the angles he takes and the reads he makes. Starlin Castro took Byrds relay throw and didnt seem to gather himself.

Castro fired toward third base to try to get Iannetta, but the ball sailed into the dugout as the Cubs fell behind 4-0 on a bases-clearing triple.

Garza didnt give in and look for an easy out, which is why the Cubs arent worried. He left after six innings and gave up five runs on seven hits. Its not all on him.

The Cubs offense didnt get any sort of bounce playing at Coors Field. In the three games Garza has started, the Cubs have scored four runs combined, and zero in his last two outings.

Hes a bulldog, Byrd said. He goes out there and gives us a chance. He kept us in the game and thats where the offense needs to come through and have his back. (We) need to step up for him.

Garza didnt blame his offense or his defense. He gave no excuses about the thin mountain air. He looked inward.

Its frustrating, but you just got to stay positive and keep working (and) know that grind is going to pay off, Garza said. Ive been through droughts like this. Keep going right at it head-first, thats about all I can do.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Why Joe Maddon won’t tone down the stunts at Cubs camp

Why Joe Maddon won’t tone down the stunts at Cubs camp

MESA, Ariz. – Joe Maddon teased reporters when pitchers and catchers reported to Arizona one week ago, promising the Cubs wouldn't tone down the gimmicks now that they're World Series champions: "We already have something planned for the first day that you might not want to miss."

A weekend of rain in Mesa postposed the first full-scale full-squad workout until Monday, and the wet grass meant the big reveal had to wait until Tuesday morning, when gonzo strength and conditioning coordinator Tim Buss drove a white Ferrari onto the field for the team's stretching session.

The bearded man they call "Bussy" rocked sunglasses, a gold chain around his neck, brown dress shoes and the same navy blue windowpane suit he wore to the White House. The overarching message as Buss blew kisses and Cypress Hill's "(Rock) Superstar" and Jay Z's "Big Pimpin'" blasted from the sound system: Humility.

"I hope everyone gets the sarcasm involved," Maddon said.

So, uh, no, the Cubs aren't going to dial it back or turn the zoo animals away or worry about the target they proudly wore on their chest last year.

"I don't know if the mime's coming back or not," Maddon said during the welcome-to-camp press conference. "Could you do a mime two years in a row? I don't know if that's permissible under MLB rules somewhere. I don't think you can bring a mime back two years in a row.

"Magicians are OK. You can anticipate a lot of the same, absolutely."

Before rolling your eyes at a star manager who loves the spotlight, it's important to note that the stunts are largely Buss productions.

"A lot of times, I'm not even aware," Maddon said. "He just knows he's got my blessings. He knows he does not have to clear it with me, unless it's absolutely insane. It works pretty well this way."

While every Maddon dress-up theme trip doesn't get universal love in the clubhouse, Buss has a unique way of getting millionaires to pay attention, almost tricking them into doing work.

"He's got several well-endowed players on the team that support his histrionics," Maddon said.

[MORE CUBS: MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field]

Since taking over this job in 2001, Buss has survived multiple ownership structures (Tribune Co., Sam Zell, Ricketts family) and the Andy MacPhail/Jim Hendry/Theo Epstein transitions in the front office, working for managers Don Baylor, Rene Lachemann (interim), Bruce Kimm (interim), Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella, Mike Quade, Dale Sveum and Rick Renteria.

"He must have some good photographs, right?" Maddon said. "He's a different cat. He's a weapon."

Buss can clearly get along with almost any kind of personality. But it took Maddon – and the explosion of social media – to give him this kind of platform.

"No, nothing's changed, man," Maddon said. "It's all the same in regards to 'the same,' meaning the methods, the process. I just got aired out by one of our geek guys for not using the word ‘process.’ It’s true. Last year, I used the word ‘process’ often. I’m going to continue to use it a lot again this year.

"Why were we able to withstand the word 'pressure' and 'expectations' as well as we did last year? Because we weren't outcome-oriented. We were more oriented towards the process. Anybody in your job and your business – if you want to be outcome-oriented – you're going to find yourself in a lot of trouble just focusing on that word.

"It's all about the process. Our process shall remain the same, absolutely it shall. Hopefully, we're going to add or augment it in some ways that can be even more interesting and entertaining."

The irony is that the Cubs have repeatedly used outcome-based thinking in defending Maddon's decisions during the World Series. But the manager obviously deserves so much credit for creating an environment where this team could play loose and relaxed and not collapse under the weight of franchise history.

"Our guys are pretty much in charge of the whole thing," Maddon said. "I love the empowerment of the players. I love that they feel the freedom to be themselves. If they didn't, maybe Jason (Heyward) would not have gotten the guys together in a weight room in Cleveland after a bad moment.

"All those things matter. And you can't understand exactly which is more important than the other. So you just continue to attempt to do a lot of the same things. Process is important, man, and we're going to continue along that path."

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred open to idea of Cubs hosting All-Star Game at renovated Wrigley Field

PHOENIX – Rob Manfred is open to the idea of an All-Star Game at a fully renovated Wrigley Field, but the Major League Baseball commissioner won't make any guarantees about the 2020 target date the Cubs have proposed in a joint lobbying effort with Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office.

"I'm not going to get into specific years," Manfred said Tuesday during a Cactus League media event at the Arizona Biltmore. "Because there's a number of clubs – we're fortunate – that have interest in particular years. And I don't want to say anything that would suggest that I'm anywhere near making a decision."

During last month's Cubs Convention, president of business operations Crane Kenney expressed optimism in a Super Bowl-style bidding process, and not the old way of simply alternating the showcase event between the American and National leagues each year.

The Cubs will point to their starring role in a World Series that beat the NFL's "Sunday Night Football" in head-to-head TV ratings and saw more than 40 million people tune in for Game 7. By 2020, the $600 million Wrigleyville development is supposed to be finished, and Emanuel helped broker the deals that moved the NFL draft to Chicago the last two years after a long run at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

"I will say this: A renovated Wrigley Field would be a great location for an All-Star Game," Manfred said. "Chicago is a great city. And over time, we have tried to go to cities that would be great locations for the game – and to reward cities that had made substantial investments in either new or renovated facilities."

The Cubs still see potential roadblocks, needing City Hall's help with an increased security presence around an urban neighborhood ballpark that hasn't hosted the Midsummer Classic since 1990.

Kenney also acknowledged that All-Star Games have been used as bargaining chips in public negotiations in cities like Miami and Washington – Marlins Park (2017) and Nationals Park (2018) will make it four straight All-Star Games for NL stadiums – while the Ricketts family used private mechanisms to fund the project after striking out on other proposals.