Cubs manager Dale Sveum keeping his cool despite losing
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com June 9, 2012 8:34PM
Jeff Samardzija allowed a career-high eight runs in 32/3 innings Saturday. | Getty Images
TODAY | Cubs at Twins
The facts: 1:10 p.m., Ch. 9, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Ryan Dempster
(1-3, 2.59 ERA) vs. Francisco Liriano (1-6, 6.46).
Updated: July 11, 2012 10:33AM
MINNEAPOLIS — Dale Sveum might be ready to snap. He should be ready to break something. He has to be on the verge of erupting on a team that’s a growing threat to become the worst in Cubs history.
Then again, maybe not.
Asked after the 11-3 loss Saturday to the last-place Minnesota Twins whether he’s starting to ‘‘get pissed off,’’ the first-year Cubs manager paused and said, ‘‘Yeah,’’ with a quick chuckle.
‘‘It’s getting a little boring now, obviously,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘Thank God we haven’t had too many of these kind of losses. Most of them have been close ballgames, and we’ve been in ballgames for the most part all year. But losing, you can only take so much of it.
‘‘And the consistency of it now is getting a little bit out of hand, that’s for sure.’’
On the other hand, ‘‘the effort and preparation isn’t a concern,’’ he said.
Maybe this is as good as this team is. The front office didn’t promise competitiveness, or even suggest it, with an offseason more about subtraction than addition.
With more subtractions coming as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline nears, what’s a manager to do? The one proven run producer on the roster, Alfonso Soriano, has 12 homers and 20 RBI in the last 24 games — and the Cubs have lost 20 of them.
‘‘Obviously, everyone’s not too stoked about what’s going on right now,’’ said Jeff Samardzija, whom the Cubs hope to build their staff around, and who gave up a career-high eight runs Saturday after giving up 13 in his previous eight starts combined.
‘‘It’s not on [Sveum]. It’s not on our staff. It’s on the guys here in the locker room. I think we understand that and what we need to do to get better. Skip’s been great. He has every right to be upset, and I think he’s kept his cool with everything that’s going on. That says a lot, says a lot about him as a manager. Things like that you don’t forget down the road.’’
Soriano said he can’t believe the Cubs have performed this bad with the talent they have.
‘‘I’m very surprised the way we are, the way we play,’’ he said. ‘‘I say it’s not the talent, it’s the confidence that we lost. I think that’s the problem right now in this clubhouse, that we lost the confidence.
‘‘I think we try too much. I think we have to get more relaxed and not try to put too much pressure on ourselves and try to do the job.’’
Catcher Geovany Soto (knee) is expected to start a minor-league rehab assignment Monday with Class AAA Iowa.
◆ The Cubs fell to 2-13 when facing a left-handed starter. They’ll face another in Francisco Liriano in the series finale Sunday.
◆ Soriano moved into the top 10 in the National League in home runs (12) and RBI (39) when he hit a two-run homer in the eighth.
◆ Cubs pitchers lead the NL in walks (226) and hit batters (25). ‘‘You put 260 people on base without them getting a hit, you’re not going to win that many ballgames,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘That’s the history of the game. You walk people, you don’t win.’’