Quade lectures Castro, faces next big test

Quade lectures Castro, faces next big test

Wednesday, March 2, 2011Posted: 9:20 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

PHOENIX The Cubs are only four games into their Cactus League schedule and already theyve reached a boiling point.

A day that began with Mike Quade asking for more from Starlin Castro ended with the manager trying to project a sense of calm.

Quade stood outside the clubhouse at Maryvale Baseball Park late Wednesday afternoon trying to defuse the tension around Carlos Silva and Aramis Ramirez, saying boys will be boys sometimes.

Quade spoke with reporters for nearly 10 minutes after their dugout confrontation during a 12-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. He called any comparisons between Silva and Carlos Zambrano ridiculous, because this is only spring training.

And he laughed after a question about how this will look back home in Chicago, with a first-year manager running his first major-league camp.

Were going to find out, arent we? Quade said. Ive been thrilled to death with the way camps gone. I havent been very happy with the way the games have gone. And I do like piss and vinegar, and I do like guys getting irritated, but we got to channel it in the right direction.

That begins with Thursdays team meeting, which will be roughly 24 hours after Quade sat down with Castro about demanding a more intense approach in his practice sessions. Quade called out the shortstops approach to his fielding and base-running drills.

Castro responded by drilling a two-run homer off Yovani Gallardo in his first at-bat. He also committed one of the teams five errors.

Quade was explicitly hired as someone who will drive home fundamentals. The Cubs one of baseballs worst defensive teams in 2010 are now up to 14 errors.

Its the fourth game of spring training, Ramirez said. You got to realize people didnt play baseball for four, four-and-half months. I dont care how many groundballs you take every day. You got to get your mind and your body ready. And, obviously, were not right now. So we all got to keep working and we should be ok.

I know Im better than the way I played last year. Castro was younger hes now got a year under his belt. He should be better. And we got a Gold Glove first baseman (in Carlos Pena).

Virtually every man in the clubhouse wanted Quade to return after he led the Cubs to a 24-13 finish in Lou Piniellas absence.

The Cubs got a break in that this game wasnt televised. You wont see any clips running all night on the highlight shows. And the views into the dugout from the press box were obstructed.

Quade does a great job, catcher Koyie Hill said. If two guys get into it, is that his fault? Hell be all right.

Silvas not the only one whos noticed the sloppy play.

Quade has seen so much during his 17 seasons as a minor-league manager, and seven more as a major-league coach. But the disciplinary decisions he made then never carried this much scrutiny. He will use it as another teaching moment.

You want everything to go real smooth. It doesnt all the time, Quade said. Id almost rather that than complacency. Theres a point where this kind of thing goes overboard as well.

But as frustrated as I was watching everything else, you almost wonder: Is somebody going to say something besides me? (Well) try and build on this tomorrow and see if we cant wake the group up and start getting ready to play baseball.

The manager has no other choice.

If we start getting after each other in this manner on a regular basis, Quade said, then were done.

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.”