Cubs forced to recharge their battery
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org August 16, 2012 10:42PM
Rookie catcher Steve Clevenger is spending more time with scouting reports these days. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
CUBS AT REDS
The facts: 6:10, Ch. 9, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Travis Wood (4-8, 4.52 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (8-7, 3.95).
THE REST OF THE SERIES
Saturday: Game 1: 12:10 p.m., CSN, 720-AM. Jeff Samardzija (8-10, 4.06) vs. Johnny Cueto (15-6, 2.45). Game 2: 6:10 p.m., CSN, 720-AM. Brooks Raley (0-2, 9.00) vs. TBD.
Sunday: 12:10 p.m., Ch. 9,
720-AM. Chris Volstad (0-9, 6.96) vs. Mat Latos (10-3,
Updated: September 18, 2012 6:20AM
When Ryan Dempster, Paul
Maholm and Geovany Soto were dealt at the trade deadline, it had a dramatic impact on the Cubs’
roster. But it especially affected what they had on the mound and behind the plate.
Add in the potential season-ending injury to pitcher Matt Garza,
and pitcher and catcher have
become positions of youth.
It is part of the rebuilding process, but it has meant more time and attention to the nurturing of a rotation that now features Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Justin Germano, Chris Volstad and a mix-and-match fifth starter.
‘‘When you had Demp and those guys, they had a game plan going into a game and had pitched a lot of years here,’’ rookie catcher Steve Clevenger said. ‘‘Now it’s going to the drawing board more and coming up with a game plan, so you spend a lot more time with scouting reports and [pitching coach Chris Bosio].’’
Clevenger and fellow catcher Welington Castillo, who has played in 29 major-league games in the last three seasons, are behind the plate now. Both have spent most of the last three springs in major-league camp, learning from Soto and former backup Koyie Hill. Soto and Clevenger shared catching duties this season before Soto was traded.
Clevenger and Castillo are getting good marks from manager Dale Sveum.
‘‘They’re learning a whole something they never had to deal with as far as watching video, getting with Bosio, going over the pitching plan to get the hitters out and sticking to it and not veering from pitching to hitters’ weaknesses as well as [their own] strengths,’’ Sveum said.
‘‘I think they learned a lot over the course of the 4½ months they’ve periodically played and how important it is to get these pitchers on the same page as the game plan and knowing it works if they stick to it.’’
Castillo said the pregame work is more exacting with a young staff.
‘‘Because we have young pitchers, there’s a lot of stuff to do, a lot of stuff to learn,’’ Castillo said. ‘‘I have to spend a lot of time with the pitching coach and the staff. There are a lot of questions to ask, but it’s always about the pitchers executing the pitch.
‘‘I’m still watching the other hitters and reading the scouting reports. Those [veteran pitchers] knew what to do, and they knew the hitters. There are a lot more adjustments now.’’
Even though Castillo and Clevenger worked with many of the Cubs’ young pitchers in the minors, ‘‘It’s a totally different ballgame up here,’’ Clevenger said. ‘‘Guys don’t chase very much off the plate. The [strike] zone is a little smaller up here. You don’t get away with a lot of mistakes up here. If you get behind, you get beat. In the minor leagues, you can get away with a little bit.’’
Sveum said he sees the learning process as a positive, with pitchers and catchers putting more trust in scouting reports.
‘‘Even for the pitchers, I think some of the stuff they bought into, and it’s been working,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘Paul Maholm turned into a front-line pitcher because of really learning hitters’ weaknesses and pitching to them, as well as Travis Wood. It’s things they’ve never really done before, and I think it’s getting them to another level and getting them to survive in the big leagues.’’