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Dale Sveum on Len Dykstra: Maybe this is what he needed

It’s two-man race between WelingtCastillo (above) Steve Clevenger for backup catcher.  |  Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

It’s a two-man race between Welington Castillo (above) and Steve Clevenger for backup catcher. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 10, 2012 11:28AM

MESA, Ariz. — The three-year prison sentence handed down to former major-leaguer Lenny ‘‘Nails’’ Dykstra this week for grand theft auto took Cubs manager Dale Sveum back 20 years to the time he got to know the hard-nosed outfielder as a teammate in Philadelphia.

“He was a friend at the time,’’ said Sveum, who hasn’t stayed in touch over the years as Dykstra has gone through financial and legal problems. “It’s a shame everything’s unfolded the way it has. That’s some tough times he’s going to go through for a while.’’

 Dykstra pleaded no contest to a scheme that involved using fraudulent information to get credit through fake businesses to lease high-end automobiles. He still faces charges in federal bankruptcy court as well as charges of indecent exposure in a separate case allegedly involving women he met through Craigslist.

“Hopefully, he gets on track, and maybe this is what he needed,’’ Sveum said, “maybe a slap in the face to get his life back on track.’’

Catcher story

 Sveum said the backup catcher battle is becoming a two-man race between Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger as Jason Jaramillo’s quad injury lingers.

 “That’s going to be a tough call at the end of spring; they’re both doing a great job,’’ Sveum said, adding of Jaramillo: ‘‘That window’s closing, especially with these other two guys doing such a good job. He needs to get on the field and show us what he can do.’’

 Starter Geovany Soto (groin) also hasn’t gotten in a game, but he’s expected to play by the end of the week.


 Pitcher Paul Maholm, who missed time early in camp because of the flu, still is behind the other starters, but Sveum said it’s not a big deal. He’s throwing side sessions and is expected to pitch by early next week.

 † With minor-league camp opening this week, Sveum expects to make a small round of cuts from a hefty 62-man big-league camp Friday or Saturday. He doesn’t anticipate a major round of cuts until after a split-squad trip to Las Vegas to play the Rangers on March 17 and 18.

† Sveum plans to get to minor-league camp at Fitch Park before the end of the spring to ‘‘try to get your message across in person.’’ He’ll be among several team officials to do that. “Not that we know there’s any issues, but I think it’s good for the manager to talk to the minor-leaguers himself,’’ he said.

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