Dale Sveum shakes up batting order, puts Joe Mather third
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com May 25, 2012 10:50PM
Darwin Barney slides safely into second base under the tag of Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes on Friday. Barney went 2-for-4. | Justin K. Aller~Getty Images
Updated: July 3, 2012 11:12AM
PITTSBURGH — With no help from the outside on the way anytime soon, Cubs manager Dale Sveum is turning to Joe Mather to pick up his flagging lineup.
It was either that or draw his lineup out of a hat.
“You never know. Sometimes you pick a lineup out of a hat and you win,’’ Sveum said. “I wasn’t going to go that far.’’
Considering a lineup that has been among the worst in the National League all season — and has averaged two runs per game in the last week — how far did Sveum come from the hat trick?
“Not too far,’’ he said.
Instead, it was Mather — one of the team’s most productive hitters, albeit in a part-time role — taking over the No. 3 spot in the order Friday and playing center field.
It was the first time this season the Cubs’ No. 3 hitter wasn’t Starlin Castro, who hit second.
“It’s time,’’ said Sveum, who considered making this move after an ugly series against the White Sox last weekend.
“The combination of not really scoring throughout the whole season and that Mather’s been as good as anybody swinging the bat, I’m going to give him an opportunity to see if he can spark us and drive the ball and do some things.’’
That means a starting job until further notice, Sveum said, including some third base and possibly another position or two.
For now, it means cutting into Tony Campana’s playing time, but the tradeoff is extra-base potential.
“For a little while, I’m going to commit to Mather and see what happens,’’ Sveum said.
Close but no closer
With Carlos Marmol (hamstring) scheduled for a minor-league rehab appearance Friday night — then one more Sunday — the Cubs anticipate a return from the disabled list for the relief pitcher Tuesday at home.
But Sveum said he doesn’t see Marmol back in the closer role anytime soon.
“He’ll still have to prove to me that he can throw strikes,’’ Sveum said, “just like the game plan was when he was taken out of the closer role. Nothing’s changed that way.’’
Marmol was removed from the closer job three weeks ago and strained his hamstring in a game about a week later.
The Cubs and Reds rescheduled their May 1 rainout in Cincinnati as a 12:10 p.m. opener to a day-night doubleheader Aug. 18.
◆ Ian Stewart was scratched from the lineup because of a flare-up of the soreness in his wrist he has played with all season. “Give it a day and see what happens,’’ Sveum said.
◆ Catcher Steve Clevenger (oblique), who is holding up well during a minor-league rehab stint at AAA Iowa, is expected to build up to catching nine innings in multiple games next week before possibly rejoining the team for its trip to San Francisco at the end of the week.