Quade shows faith in Castro, Pena

Quade shows faith in Castro, Pena
April 27, 2011, 2:15 am
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011Posted: 8:35 PM
By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Mike Quade sat in the United Center watching the Blackhawks on Sunday night and wondered about the decision to bench Roberto Luongo.

The Cubs manager thought about the goalies history, what he means to the franchise and how the Vancouver Canucks would respond in a Game 7. Quade gets second-guessed all the time, and welcomes the arguments, so hes earned the right.

The next night, Quade trudged into the interview room at Wrigley Field after his 59th game as Cubs manager. The consensus was that he had never been that angry or frustrated during a postgame media session.

Quade didnt even bother to try to put a positive spin on that 5-3 loss to the Colorado Rockies and went straight to adjectives like awful and bad.

By Tuesday afternoon, Quade was back to being upbeat, admitting that its only one game, less than one percent of the entire season. He is going to take the same long view with Starlin Castro and Carlos Pena.

Its like being the closer, Quade said. You better have a short memory.

On a cold, wet Monday night, Castro became the first Cub in almost 15 years to commit three errors in one inning. Quade didnt say much to his 21-year-old shortstop, other than offer a few words of encouragement.

The message will be the same as it ever was since Castro made his big-league debut 11-plus months ago: Slow the game down for a moment. Dont rush everything.

Im not an excuse-maker, but it wasnt the greatest of nights to play, Quade said. Every throw I watched from everybody on the field (was) made with caution (and) thats the one thing I hope he learned you might have to take a little extra time in those circumstances.

We may not be able to turn the double play. We may not be able to play this thing like its a dry day in June."

Castro doesnt lack for confidence. He doesnt care if he bats leadoff (23-for-46 entering Tuesday) or third (2-for-17). Quade says he hasnt noticed a change in approach, and thats all that matters.

I have no concerns about his psyche, no matter where he hits, Quade said. If he showed up here tomorrow and was hitting fourth, I dont think hed blink.

You just dont wake up one day and go: Hmmmlets try him third. Thats not what I do. Hes talented, hes capable and going through the first month of the season hes our best hitter. Thats whos supposed to be your third guy. Well see how it plays out.

So Quade will continue to mix-and-match, figuring that Kosuke Fukudome (.571 on-base percentage) is the best leadoff option against right-handers and believing that Marlon Byrd will start producing in the clutch (.185 average with runners in scoring position).

Quade also recognizes that Jeff Baker (.990 OPS) deserves more playing time. But the managers not prepared to automatically sit Pena against left-handed pitchers.

Pena woke up Tuesday with zero homers, one extra-base hit, a .169 average and 22 strikeouts in his first 59 at-bats. The first baseman who averaged 36 homers and 102 RBI across the past four seasons has also been dealing with a thumb injury. He got the vote of confidence.

We need to get Carlos going. Period, Quade said. It cant be a platoon system for me because I still would like the left-handed power in the middle of that lineup that I know Carlos has and Im not willing to bail on that three weeks into the season in April in Chicago.

Hopefully thats a conversation for never. Its not for now.

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