Wednesday, March 2, 2011Posted: 9:20 PM
By Patrick Mooney
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.