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Cubs’ offense breaks drought, but barely

Joey Votmoves tag out Emilio Bonifacio who fell trying get back first base first inning. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Joey Votto moves to tag out Emilio Bonifacio, who fell trying to get back to first base in the first inning. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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Updated: May 20, 2014 6:14AM



If the Cubs’ hitters are hiding something from the rest of baseball, it can’t be much. That was clear when the roster was assembled.

But if the offense has potential, the Cubs’ 4-1 loss to the Reds on Friday at Wrigley Field didn’t do much to inspire hope that it will be realized any time soon.

The Cubs snapped their scoreless drought at 24 innings on Luis Valbuena’s RBI single in the seventh, but they still have scored only two runs in their last 32 innings and have lost five in a row.

And there’s no promise that things are going to get better, especially after manager Rick Renteria questioned the team for its carelessness after the game.

“I concern myself more with the way we approach the game,” Renteria said. “If our approaches are good, if we’re really focused on what we’re supposed to be doing — both at the plate and in the field — I’m good with it. Today, I think we were a little sloppy in general.

“It’s just a matter of focus. They know it. I think our players know it. It’s a long season, but the reality is good clubs really do grind out every single game.”

Renteria said he didn’t specifically address the team about those issues. Maybe that’s because it should have been apparent.

Second baseman Emilio Bonifacio broke a 0-for-13 streak with an infield single to lead off the first. But instead of sparking a rally that might have helped the team break out of its funk, he was picked off first.

It was an inexcusable mistake in a game in which the Cubs had three runners in scoring position.

“We cannot take [a negative mentality] every day and come to the park like, ‘Oh, I’m frustrated,’ ” catcher Welington Castillo said. “We have to come with the mind-set [of] just getting better.

“[Renteria] said a lot of good things. He’s a positive guy. He’s trying to be positive to the team, to everyone, to just try to go on the field and play hard.”

The players will say they’re unaware of most of the embarrassing statistics that have defined this young season. They can ignore what they see on paper, but not what’s on the field.

They might not be watching their averages, but the hope is they are watching the games. If they’re not careful, their confidence could become an issue.

“They don’t really worry about any of the other little things on the periphery, the reality of numbers or where they’re at offensively,” Renteria said.

“Confidence, especially offensively, many times it’s like a domino effect.”

NOTE: Cubs injured starting pitcher Jake Arrieta will make one more rehab start for Class AAA Iowa next week. Arrieta came to spring training with a sore shoulder and hasn’t seen any big-league action this season.

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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