Cubs manager Dale Sveum says everyone is accountable for bad start
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com April 22, 2013 5:20PM
Updated: April 22, 2013 10:53PM
CINCINNATI — Cubs manager Dale Sveum raised the tone, and the stakes. And then the players raised the level of play Monday night in Cincinnati.
“It’s gnawing on me a little more than last year,” Sveum said before the game, “because even though we lost last year, we didn’t really play this bad of baseball.”
Bad baseball that included 17 errors in the first 17 games, the fewest walks of any team in the National League and an ugly .148 average with men in scoring position.
One day after suggesting players’ jobs were on the line — including those of core guys Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo — Sveum said the poor play has him thinking about his own job security.
“I’d be lying if I said you didn’t think about yourself with some of this stuff, too,” Sveum said.
“But that’s something you don’t have control over. I’ve got control over my job and my coaching staff to prepare everybody every day, from spring training, this and that. That’s all I can do.”
In fact, the Cubs seem to have the most important part of the game solved: starting pitching.
Despite playing without its best pitcher, Matt Garza (lat strain), the rotation ranks third in the NL with a 3.11 ERA after left-hander Travis Wood dominated for much of a 61/3-inning start.
Wood took a two-hit shutout into the seventh before a leadoff homer by Jay Bruce cut the Cubs’ lead to 2-1. Wood left with one out and a runner at first, but lost the would-be decision two batters later when James Russell gave up a triple to Jack Hannahan.
Even an errorless fielding performance for the first time since Thursday wasn’t enough to compensate for the blown save and lack of production, which included another tough night with men in scoring position.
“We’re all in this together, myself, the coaching staff,” Sveum said. “It’s not just the players. We have to get them to respond to all of us, and myself, to get better. … It’s one of them things that you just obviously hope it passes.”
To be clear, Sveum’s job is in no danger. The front office, which brought Sveum in at the start of a major tear-down, has consistently backed the manager to the point of taking responsibility for last year’s 101-loss season. Nothing has changed two weeks into the second season, and Sveum said he has received nothing but support from team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.
“No doubt,” he said.
Sveum reiterated the point he made Sunday when he suggested no player’s job is safe if he doesn’t perform well enough in the majors, regardless of talent, reputation or alleged “core player” status – including All-Star shortstop Castro and hand-picked building-block first baseman Rizzo.
“They’re not the only ones,” he said. “Nobody’s exempt. Just pointing them out. That doesn’t’ mean they’re [getting demoted]. …
“I’m not pointing fingers at them. Nobody’s exempt. I’m [not] exempt to being fired. [Neither] is the coaching staff. We’re all in this together on this team. We’re all [accountable] for this.”