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Cubs’ Sveum preaching — and getting — “accountability”
MESA, Ariz. – Dale Sveum is still waiting for the big one he knows is coming. In the meantime, he and his coaching staff have been kept fairly busy during games this spring backing up the “be accountable” theme he’s stressed in his first spring as the Cubs’ manager.
If much of it sticks into the season it might even get the Cubs out of the majors’ defensive cellar.
“As much as anything we’ve addressed being held accountable on the defensive end of everything,” Sveum said. “When something happens on the field, it’s taken care of right when they get off the field. You don’t have time for mistakes, or mental mistakes, to happen again. Some people say, `Well, I’ll take care of it after the game.’ Well, what if there’s six innings left and it happens again?
“Those are the kind of things that are preached: when stuff goes awry on the field, you have to address it right then and hold people accountable for what goes on, on the field.”
Sveum said that so far the staff has had to deal with only minor things.
“It might be positioning, it might be maybe fielding a throw around the bag, or a cutoff,” he said.
Even things as simple as keeping the glove low when taking a throw to a base instead of jerking the glove up to try to pick it and potentially knock it out of the line of guys backing up.
“There’s always somebody backing up,” said Sveum, who apparently has not watched the Cubs much over the past few years. “The ball’s going to be picked up by somebody. But you’re not going to get an out if you do that with your glove, because then you’ve got to bring it back down… Those little things like that. …
“But everybody’s been doing well for the most part. And we’ve been great at running balls out. I haven’t had to deal with that, so all that’s been good.”
But he’s waiting for what he knows is inevitable.
“There are some things where you have to give the 24-hour rule, where you have to cool down before you might say something or do something stupid,” he said. “There haven’t been any of those. I know there will be. But so far not yet.”
Former Cub middle infielders and LSU teammates Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot are playing short and second, respectively, and batting seventh and eighth Friday when their Giants play the Cubs at HoHoKam Park.
The Cubs are in the midst of the heaviest part of their spring schedule with a two-day trip to Las Vegas over the weekend to face the Texas Rangers in split-squad games, followed by another split-squad set of games Tuesday just ahead of Wednesday’s lone day off in camp.
But don’t think anybody’s looking at the trip to Vegas, with a pair of day games, as some sort of “reward” for the hard-working crew.
“I don’t know if it’s a reward or not. You’re still playing and all that,” Sveum said. “You don’t really get to enjoy Vegas. I’m sure somebody will – probably too much. That’s the nature of the city. It just breaks up spring training a little.”
Sveum continued to sing the praises of Rule 5 pitcher Lendy Castillo, a 22-year-old right-hander selected from the Phillies system, who has played no higher than the Class A level.
Despite the relative lack of experience (38 career professional appearances since converting from playing the infield), Castillo has performed his way into legitimate contention for a bullpen job.
“We felt pretty strongly that his makeup was OK,” Sveum said. “His stuff was obviously good enough to give it a shot and give it a look. And he’s doing well.
“But I think his preparation and his makeup and the way he’s handling himself on the mound is a little bit more important for a Rule 5 kid than just his stuff alone.”
If the Cubs don’t keep him on the major league roster all season, they’re required to offer him back to Philadelphia for half the original draft fee.
“He’s been able to throw strikes, and the stuff’s there,” Sveum said, “but his poise on the mound and the way he handles [fielding practice] and his athleticism and his competitiveness has been far and above a lot of other Rule 5 guys I’ve been around over the years.”
Friday’s lineup vs. San Francisco:
RF David DeJesus
CF Marlon Byrd
SS Starlin Castro
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Joe Mather
C Steve Clevenger
LF Dave Sappelt
2B Adrian Cardenas
P Matt Garza