Cubs stand by Coleman after rocky outing

Cubs stand by Coleman after rocky outing
April 22, 2011, 10:41 pm
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Friday, April 22, 2011
Posted: 6:04 p.m. Updated: 7:37 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Casey Coleman doesn't have to look over his shoulder yet. He's built up enough capital within the organization.

The Cubs know that Coleman doesn't have overpowering stuff. He got to this point because of his intelligence, his control and his ability to make the big pitches that minimize the damage.

It simply didn't happen in Friday's 12-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"People are allowed a mulligan or two," manager Mike Quade said.

It's easy to forget just how much the Cubs are asking of Coleman, who will turn 24 this summer and has only 70 innings on his major-league resume.

That's because of his pedigree - third-generation big-league pitcher - and the way he finished last season, going 4-2 with a 3.33 ERA in eight starts.

On a cold, gray afternoon - 41 degrees at first pitch - the Cubs waited 74 minutes to start Friday's game and were soon probably wondering: Why did we bother?

There was an announced crowd of 36,595, but nowhere near that many showed up, and by the end it was mostly just the seagulls circling overhead.

Coleman got through the first two innings before unraveling in the third. He looked out of character by walking in one run and ultimately couldn't stop the bleeding.

A.J. Ellis sliced a two-out, two-run single into center to give the Dodgers a 5-0 lead. Even pitcher Chad Billingsley lined an RBI single into right. The Dodgers (11-10) generated six runs on six hits during that sequence.

"I didn't do a good job of slowing down the game," Coleman said. "I had it in my mind (that) I was going to make that one pitch to get out of the inning. (I) got myself in too much of a hurry.

"One after another - even if I got ahead of the guy - I let him right back in the count (and) they were able to get some singles."

Though Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner have made progress, they've still only just begun to play catch and have no idea when they'll be able to come off the disabled list.

Quade said he has "no idea" what the Cubs are going to do for a fifth starter on Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies. James Russell hasn't been completely ruled out for another spot start yet, though the 25-year-old left-hander is best-suited as a situational reliever.

Quade will discuss the options with general manager Jim Hendry and assistant general manager Randy Bush this weekend. Quade will also make calls to the managers at Triple-A Iowa and Double-A Tennessee for their input.

"If we have somebody that's ready (in the system), I would like to explore that," Quade said. "Everything's still on the table until we take a closer look at it."

Having already survived a doubleheader this week, the Cubs will also consider bringing up a new reliever from Iowa.

Once Coleman was knocked out in the third, it fell to Jeff Stevens to eat up the next 3.1 innings. Stevens threw 89 pitches, allowed three runs and became the first Cubs reliever to walk six batters in a game since Joe Kraemer in 1990.

"If they asked me to throw 200 pitches, I would have," Stevens said. "I'll pitch in any situation. We needed to pick up Casey."

The Cubs (9-10) can look forward to Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza starting the next three days. But there's a drop-off after the "Big Three" that will make it hard to sustain momentum.

The Cubs became just the third team since 1900 to hit the .500 mark every step of the way to 9-9, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. They will stick with Coleman, who also gave up six runs in his major-league debut last August before finding his rhythm.

"You got to move on," Coleman said. "Everyone has that one bad start. I had it last year, (which) was probably worse, but the guys in the locker room had confidence in me (and) played hard behind me. ... I'm not worried about this."

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

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