Cubs’ Jackson in heated exchange with Sveum after being taken out
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter September 16, 2013 10:29PM
Updated: October 18, 2013 6:32AM
MILWAUKEE — That a tepid Cubs season took this long to reach a boiling point might be the most surprising thing about manager Dale Sveum’s heated dugout exchange with Edwin Jackson on Monday night after Jackson was removed for a pinch hitter in the fifth inning.
Because as recent Cubs outbursts in beat-down seasons go, this one didn’t come close to any of Carlos Zambrano’s worth-the-admission meltdowns or even the “wow” factor of Ryan Dempster’s airing out of Mike Quade on the Pittsburgh dugout steps in 2011 and Kerry Wood’s personal 2012 moment when he threw his glove and cap in the stands.
“Yeah, with Demp and Quade, and obviously Z’s had his fair share — it happens all the time,” said reliever James Russell, one of the few Cubs left from the Zambrano, Lou Piniella and Quade days. “Just given our situation, it gets blown out of proportion a little bit just with the struggles we’ve had all year. But it’s nothing anybody’s worried about.”
If this one had a different feel, it was because it centered on the $52 million symbol for this year’s chapter in the Theo Epstein Project. And because signs of discord have been rare during a two-year stretch that promises to push the 195-loss total — with Monday’s 6-1 loss to the Brewers pushing it to 188 with 12 to play.
It’s debatable whether that says more about the staff’s ability to manage through adversity, a general lack of anything to gain from fighting or the built-in incentive for so many of these players to play nice and try to impress.
Jackson wouldn’t even say what he told the usually composed Sveum to set him off, other than to admit the obvious that he didn’t want to come out of the game.
“Either way, I don’t have a problem with him, and I’m sure he don’t have a problem with me,” Jackson (8-16, 4.75 ERA) said. “It’s something that happened, but it’s not a big deal. It might be blown out of proportion. But I don’t have a problem with anybody on the staff.”
Jackson, a career .500 pitcher signed to a four-year deal to give the Cubs’ rotation depth through a long rebuilding effort, has responded with one of his worst seasons.
He allowed only one earned run and three hits, but he walked three in a row in the second inning and committed a costly throwing error in the fourth, fielding a squeeze bunt and firing past first base.
By the time his spot came up in the fifth with a man on third, “He was already at 75 pitches, and I felt as many one-run games as we played, and in this ballpark, I was going to take a shot at tying it back up and making sure we scored that run,” Sveum said.
“He wasn’t happy coming out and not getting the five innings [to qualify for a win]. And you respect that about players wanting to stay in. But I made that decision.”
Said Jackson: “I was just ready to go. … Everybody wants to stay in the game. I was ready to battle. But he made his decision that he wanted a pinch hitter. … Competitive nature. You see it all the time in football.”