Dale Sveum lauds Travis Wood for his competitive nature
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter August 28, 2013 8:38PM
Updated: September 30, 2013 2:06PM
LOS ANGELES — He might not have the exciting velocity that lights a radar gun, or the strikeout totals that scream ace or the frame that makes scouts drool.
But if he keeps this up, the Cubs are going to have to look hard at making sure they keep Travis Wood around for a long time.
In outperforming Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday night for the Cubs’ only victory against the Dodgers this season, Wood showed off a quality manager Dale Sveum said he already knew the left-hander had.
“He’s just got that competitiveness in him that rises [with the situation],” Sveum said. “There’s certain guys that just have that inner [drive]. They compete with themselves and challenge themselves. Instead of saying, ‘Oh, [no] I’m going against Kershaw,’ he’s like biting at the bit to see what he an do against him.”
Wood: “I love going up against guys like that.”
It shows. The Cubs’ lone All-Star is 3-0 with a 0.45 ERA in three starts against Cy Young winners this season — 4-2 with a 2.98 ERA in 10 matchups against All-Star starters. The Cubs are 6-4 in those games (including a shutout loss to Francisco Liriano and another loss after 82/3 scoreless innings by Stephen Strasburg).
He also singled and scored the first run of the game off Kershaw. And hit a grand slam off Jake Peavy.
“It’s reality,” Sveum said of the competitive intangible that doesn’t show up on spreadsheets. “It’s hard to come across people like that — and like [Jeff] Samardzija, who gets in those big games and has always stepped up and done real well.
“It’s hard to find the heart and competitiveness that those kind of people have on a daily basis.”
As the Cubs try to build a contending pitching staff in the next few years, “it’s huge,” Sveum said. “A lot of times you get the right guys in [around them] and they feed off that, too”
No eyeballing zone
For the 10th time in his career and sixth time this season — and second in 11 games — Sveum was ejected from a game, this time before an out was recorded in the bottom of the first.
And in what is becoming a trend for the second-year manager, it was over another case of somebody “eyeballing” him or somebody else on the team — the fourth time in seven ejections for Sveum, dating to last season.
After a bad non-call on a two-strike check-swing by Dodgers hitter Yasiel Puig, Sveum yelled at first-base ump Lance Barksdale, but then sat back down and thought he was done.
“We said our piece, and then he had his head in our dugout for 30 seconds,” Sveum said. I just don’t think that’s right. He just kept his head in our dugout waiting for somebody to say something else. Unfortunately, I did.”
When Puig flies
Rookie sensation Puig was pulled from the game by Dodgers manager Don Mattingly in the fourth inning after slamming his bat following a strikeout in the third, then lollygagging to right field in the top of the fourth.
He also chose not to slide at second on a double-play grounder in the first.
Puig, who met behind closed doors with Mattingly and general manager Ned Colletti after the game, told Los Angeles reporters he was removed because he wasn’t ready for every pitch on defense and that he understood.
Mattingly explained only that replacement Skip Schumaker gave the Dodgers “a better chance to win.”
CY AND MIGHTY
From Monday’s loss to Zack Greinke in Los Angeles through Saturday’s matchup against Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee at Wrigley Field, the Cubs will face four Cy Young Award winners in five games.
And it was the other guy, Dodgers right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who shut the Cubs out on three hits in eight innings of work Wednesday.
“He’s pitching as well as anyone right now,” outfielder Brian Bogusevic said. “There’s no days off [this week], no comfortable at-bats.”