Cubs manager Dale Sveum can relate to Kevin Ware’s leg trauma
By GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org April 5, 2013 11:24PM
Anthony Rizzo, B.J. Upton
Updated: May 7, 2013 6:18AM
ATLANTA — When Cubs manager Dale Sveum saw the video of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware’s gruesome leg injury a few days ago, he had a more personal reaction than most.
‘‘It’s a flashback moment,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘It happened to both of us. It’s something that you’ll never forget. . . . It’s just such a trauma, such a big trauma incident, that you’re never going to forget it. And it’s never going to go away.’’
While the Cubs face the Atlanta Braves across town at Turner Field on Saturday night, Ware is expected to draw as much attention as any of his teammates at the Georgia Dome, where Louisville plays Wichita State in a Final Four semifinal.
‘‘I felt horrible about it. Obviously, I went through the same thing,’’ said Sveum, who was a rising-star shortstop with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1988 when he suffered career-altering leg injuries in a horrific crash with teammate Darryl Hamilton while chasing a foul popup.
‘‘Hopefully, he can come back. I don’t know if he can come back from something like that. But that was eye-opening, to say the least.’’
Sveum never was anywhere close to the player he had been. But what he went through to come back at all — and to stick in the majors for nine more seasons with six more teams — might be a big part of why he’s the field boss for Theo Epstein’s team right now.
‘‘You could go on and on about all the avenues that it probably created for me to learn a lot more about the game and to understand that [managing] was something I was going to want to do,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘I ended up doing so many things on the field, playing so many different positions, being the main pinch-hitter off the bench . . .’’
Between his early-career star status and his constant struggles to keep a big-league job after the injury, Sveum also found unique perspective to relate to players across a wide spectrum.
‘‘That’s where I can identify with all our bench players — I can identify with what it’s like to double switch when it’s 20 degrees outside and go up there and pinch-hit,’’ he said. ‘‘It helps to be able to identify and realize how difficult some of these jobs are — how difficult it is to play every day, let alone playing off the bench. It helps a lot.’’
Shortstop Starlin Castro played in his 200th consecutive game Friday night. It’s the longest active streak in the National League and second in the majors only to the Detroit Tigers’ Prince Fielder (347).
‘‘It’s nice to have a guy, let alone your shortstop, that’ll go out there every day,’’ Sveum said.
◆ When Scott Feldman lasted just 42/3 rocky innings Friday night, the starting staff’s ERA went from 0.95 to 2.28 (232/3 innings).
◆ Scott Hairston led off the fifth inning with the team’s third home run of the season. Five of the Cubs’ seven runs have scored on long balls.