Sveum brings McKay onto Cubs staff


Sveum brings McKay onto Cubs staff

Cubs manager Dale Sveum is bringing in someone from Tony La Russas inner circle.

Dave McKay who spent the past 16 seasons as the St. Louis Cardinals first-base coach will take the same job with the Cubs. Before that, McKay spent a decade working for La Russa and the Oakland As. Their run saw three World Series titles, including last seasons championship drive that led up to La Russas retirement.

The Cubs finally unveiled their coaching staff on Friday and as expected Rudy Jaramillo (hitting) and Lester Strode (bullpen) will return in 2012. Pat Listach who was Mike Quades bench coach last season will move to third base. All three have developed good connections with players in the clubhouse.

Two key Sveum hires Jamie Quirk (bench) and Chris Bosio (pitching) had already been established. McKay, 61, wasnt going to be part of Mike Mathenys new staff in St. Louis.

Dave came into the picture a little bit late because I had no idea that he got let go by the Cardinals. I was shocked by that, Sveum said. I was just glad that I didnt miss (out and) Dave got a hold of me (to) let me know that he was out there because hes a huge asset to any team.

Sveum played briefly in Oakland and lives near McKay in Arizona, where the Cubs staff has been going over the roster and making plans for spring training.

The major-league staff assistants will be Mike Borzello, a catching instructor with ties to the New York Yankees, and Franklin Font, a long-time minor-league staffer who has a good relationship with Starlin Castro.

Quirk played 18 years in the big leagues and has 18 more seasons of experience as a coach in the majors. Bosio has done the job before in Tampa Bay and Milwaukee and can draw upon the 11 seasons he pitched in the majors.

Sveum will be surrounded by people he trusts, and that will be huge during his first full season as a major-league manager.

We have a lot of guys that are really good teachers, Sveum said. (Theyve) been around the game (and they) know how to handle big-league players and how to get the best out of them.

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Clayton Kershaw stands between the Cubs and the World Series, a possibility that left veteran catcher David Ross thinking about Ric Flair inside Dodger Stadium’s visiting clubhouse late Thursday night: To be The Man, you got to beat The Man. 

“Woo!” That’s how the Cubs like to punctuate their postgame celebration routine, channeling the professional wrestling legend in a ritual with so much sensory overload that the fog machine set off fire alarms throughout the underground Wrigley Field lair…after a win in the middle of August. “Woo!” 
The Cubs left Los Angeles one win away from their first National League pennant since 1945, and with two chances to pull it off this weekend at Wrigley Field, beginning on Saturday night in Game 6. So imagine how this crew would trash the Party Room if they beat Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL MVP. 

“The guy competes,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s pretty much like mechanics be damned, it’s just about me beating you somehow. 

“He’s got a good fastball that he locates. He doesn’t walk people. He’s got a dynamic curve and slider. And he’s got deception. He’s a little bit funky, and that’s got to be hard to pick up. The ball gets on you pretty quickly, and then he commands it. 

“So there’s nothing you could possibly ask for that he doesn’t already have.”

Now we’ll see if something clicked while the Cubs turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 NLCS lead – handling rookie starters Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda and the softer parts of the Los Angeles bullpen – or if those 18 runs combined in Games 4 and 5 were a mirage.

In 16-plus innings so far, the Cubs still haven’t scored a run off Kershaw, if-necessary Game 7 lefty starter Rich Hill or dominating closer Kenley Jansen, who got this review from Maddon: “He’s like a 100-pound heavier version of Mariano Rivera. He’s the bigger man with the same kind of stuff.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Why are the Cubs so confident? Remember, this offense scored 808 runs during the regular season, more than every NL team except for the Colorado Rockies. This lineup knocked out October legend Madison Bumgarner after five innings in the divisional round (though pitcher Jake Arrieta delivered the three-run homer in a game the San Francisco Giants would win in extra innings). 

The Cubs should at least have a better idea of what to expect after getting that up-close view during a 1-0 loss in Game 2, the end of a 10-day period where the Dodgers used Kershaw for three starts and a division-series save against the Washington Nationals.  

Ben Zobrist – a veteran of 11 postseason series – explained: “His heater – as straight as it is – (comes from) the deception of his funky windup. You think you’re there, and it’s right above your barrel.”

“We’ll all be ready to go,” All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “Any time you see a guy back-to-back, it’s always to our advantage as hitters. We just have to go out there and play our game and have good at-bats off a left-handed pitcher. 

“I know it’s Clayton Kershaw, but we really got to just focus in on having good at-bats.” 

The Dodgers still have to beat a leading Cy Young contender (Kyle Hendricks) and last year’s award winner (Arrieta) on back-to-back nights in a building that will be shaking if the Cubs take an early lead with a Kris Bryant home run. And until this October, Kershaw had a reputation for underachieving in the playoffs.

“We got to battle,” Bryant said. “We know Kershaw likes to keep his pitch count down, because he wants to pitch the whole game. He’s a competitor, so we got to find a way to work counts and not swing at the pitches that he wants us to.

“Any time you got the best in the game going at you, it’s a challenge. And it’s going to be fun.” 

That’s exactly how the Cubs have approached everything this year, with an Embrace-The-Target attitude and all this Flair for the dramatic. 

“To be the best, you got to beat the best,” Rizzo said.