Cubs need to get ring-side seats
February 27, 2013 10:30PM
Updated: April 1, 2013 12:12PM
MESA, Ariz. — On a rainy day in St. Louis last April, the first-year manager of the new-era Cubs ordered his team to stand in line in front of the visitors’ dugout and watch the St. Louis Cardinals receive their World Series rings.
‘‘I think it matters a lot,’’ Dale Sveum said that day.
One reason is one of the Cubs’ own, former Cards coach Dave McKay, was part of the ceremony. The bigger reason is the bigger picture: The ring is what it’s all about.
Sveum expects to get another chance to make his point this season. Outfielder Nate Schierholtz will become the second new Cub in as many years to be presented a World Series ring while wearing a uniform not usually — ever, actually — associated with such things.
Schierholtz doesn’t know when or how he’ll get it, but he was asked last month to provide the World Series champion San Francisco Giants his ring size.
‘‘I’m excited to get it, there’s no doubt about that,’’ said Schierholtz, who spent most of last season with the Giants before being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies at the trade deadline.
“It’s something that’s priceless to a player.”
That’s the idea. And that’s why Sveum will pay close attention to Schierholtz’s ring-bearing schedule, whether it involves a more quiet presentation when the Giants go to Wrigley Field in April or maybe even a more public pregame presentation for the outfielder in San Francisco in July.
‘‘Last year when we saw that in St. Louis,’’ Cubs catcher Steve Clevenger said, ‘‘it just put in the back of our mind that if we play the game right, if we play the game hard, this could be us.”
For Schierholtz, it’s his second ring, the first coming in 2010, when he actually was part of the Giants franchise’s first title in San Francisco, even driving in an eighth-inning run with a two-out hit in a Game 1 victory over the Texas Rangers.
He keeps that ring in a safe-deposit box, he said, and had a replica made that he sometimes wears around San Francisco (but not around the Cubs so far).
‘‘It was a little different [this time] because I wasn’t there the last two months and throughout the playoffs,’’ said Schierholtz, whose old teammates voted him a full 2012 World Series share. ‘‘But I’ve got a lot of good friends there, and I’m happy for what they did and what they were able to accomplish. They deserved it. I was just glad to be part of a lot of good years there.”
Fast-forward to a Cubs team that has gone so long without a championship they didn’t even have World Series rings the last time the Cubs won.
Fast-forward to a Cubs team in a major rebuilding process that Schierholtz chose over contenders such as the New York Yankees because, he said, of a greater opportunity to play.
Fast-forward to the moment — whenever it comes — that Schierholtz gets his World Series ring, even if it comes in a private clubhouse presentation, the way Derrek Lee and Todd Hollandsworth got theirs from the Florida Marlins in 2004.
‘‘It’s a day you never forget when that person gives you that ring,” Sveum said. ‘‘When you have people who maybe haven’t had the fortune of seeing it, it just brings everything back to, ‘This is what it’s all about.’
‘‘It’s a pretty emotional, special day for whoever’s receiving it, and when you get a chance to see it, I don’t think it hurts anything.”
DODGERS 11, CUBS 7
HAM AND AGONY: An already long, ugly day of baseball was overshadowed by the hamstring injury that caused Starlin Castro to pull up limping at first base, then leave the game in the fourth inning. The team is calling it “tightness” in the left hammy instead of a full-blown pull. “Thank God, it doesn’t seem to be a big deal at all,’’ Sveum said. Castro is day-to-day.
WHO’S HOT: Nate Schierholtz (4-for-7) and Darwin Barney (3-for-6) are off to quick starts, each delivering two hits and combining for three RBI.
WHO’S NOT: Until Shawn Camp and James Russell pitched the last two innings, a parade of Cubs minor-leaguers and periphery bullpen candidates combined to allow 14 hits, four walks and two wild pitches.
THIRD WATCH: Luis Valbuena continues to make a strong bid to win the third-base job while Ian Stewart recovers from a quad strain. Valbuena led off the first with a double down the right-field line and scored in the four-run inning, and he’s 3-for-5 in the early going overall with two doubles and a homer.
HIT MAN JAVY: Top prospect Javy Baez hit the hardest ball of the spring, a one-hop shot right at Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon, who was forced to suddenly twist out of the way to avoid bodily harm. ‘‘I’ve probably seen balls hit as hard, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ball hit harder,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘That was the kind of ball [Gary] Sheffield used to hit.”
ON DECK: Oakland Athletics at Cubs, Thursday at HoHoKam Stadium, 2:05 p.m. (live audio at cubs.com), Scott Feldman vs. Brett Anderson.