Cubs’ kids learn on the job in loss to Padres
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org August 7, 2012 12:30AM
Brett Jackson reacts as he strikes out for the fourth consecutive at-bat Monday. | Lenny Ignelzi~AP
SAN DIEGO — Cubs fans are famous for their patience. Just ask former Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly.
‘‘What’s it been, 102 years?’’ Lilly, now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, said the other day. ‘‘I’d say they’re pretty patient.’’
Never mind the fact Lilly shorted the run of patience by a couple of years. The next two months figure to test that famous tolerance level like few times in recent memory.
Take the Cubs’ 2-0 loss Monday to the San Diego Padres — please.
With a lineup that featured second-day big-leaguer Brett Jackson leading off and glove-in-progress Josh Vitters making his first start at third base, the Cubs managed only five hits.
‘‘But that’s what they’re here for, to develop and see this kind of pitching and make the adjustments they have to make,’’ manager Dale Sveum said.
Jackson, who led the minors in strikeouts when he was called up Sunday, struck out in all four of his at-bats Monday. That gave him five strikeouts in a row after he fanned in his last at-bat Sunday. He fell behind 0-2 in the count in four of those five at-bats.
‘‘It comes down to swinging at strikes,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘He’s going to be in there. That was part of the deal. He’s going to be here to develop and make adjustments and go from there.’’
Said Jackson: ‘‘It’s no fun to strike out four times, but it’s something that I’m working on cutting down. I’ll keep working with [hitting coach] James [Rowson] and Dale. No doubt in my mind we’re going to get the abilities out of me.’’
Vitters added two strikeouts, including one to end the game, but he made the defensive play of the night when he pulled off a diving stab of a shot down the line by Cameron Maybin, leaped to his feet and threw to first to get the speedy Maybin by a half-step.
Everth Cabrera then sent a long fly to the warning track in right-center that Jackson glided under effortlessly to make a difficult catch look easy.
Starting pitcher Travis Wood, who’s among those trying to prove they belong in this new-era building plan, pitched six good innings, allowing only two fourth-inning runs.
But it didn’t prevent the Cubs from losing their sixth consecutive game or from falling 21 games below .500. They seem to be back in the hunt for a top-two or -three overall draft pick next June.
‘‘You know we’re going to be behind the eight ball a little bit,’’ Sveum said about the shift in emphasis from trying to win every night to blending that effort with player development.
‘‘Now we get to develop at the big-league level the Brett Jacksons, the [Josh] Vitterses, the [Alberto] Cabreras, the [Brooks] Raleys, the Travis Woods. For all these guys, it’s time to develop and take those extra steps to be a major-league player on an every-day basis.’’
Said Wood: ‘‘We’re a very young team, but I think we can use that to our favor. We’re energetic. We’ve got fire. We’ve got to just get after it.’’