Cubs won’t pin skid on their admitted post-trade blues
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter July 8, 2014 10:42PM
Updated: July 9, 2014 2:23AM
CINCINNATI — Nobody in the Cubs’ clubhouse blames their tough stretch since Saturday on the trade the night before that blew up the rotation and stunned the guys left behind.
But nobody, except maybe the manager, denies the aftereffects in a clubhouse that lost two of its most respected and popular veterans.
‘‘I’d be lying if [I said] none of us acknowledged what had happened,’’ said outfielder Chris Coghlan, who homered in both games of Tuesday’s doubleheader but still couldn’t prevent the Cincinnati Reds from sweeping the Cubs by scores of 4-2 and 6-5. ‘‘I’ve been through this with Miami, so it’s a little easier. But it still cuts because there’s relationships. It’s not just business for individuals in here.”
Coming up on the vacated rotation spots of Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija on Wednesday and Thursday, the remaining players are still looking for the growing swagger that had them on a four-game streak — and a 25-19 run over their last seven weeks — until the trade.
They haven’t won since, blowing a 5-0 lead in Tuesday’s nightcap despite three home runs and five strong innings by 33-year-old rookie Tsuyoshi Wada, the Japanese veteran making his major-league debut.
They’ve been outscored 34-11 in those five losses (including a 13-0 blowout less than 24 hours after the trade), with first-year Cub killer Billy Hamilton dealing them what might be the toughest of the five losses when his game-winning single in the ninth landed just inside the left-field foul line Tuesday night.
‘‘Truth be told, as quickly as everybody can put that to bed, [the better],’’ manager Rick Renteria said of the trades. ‘‘Personally, it’s already done. I can’t turn back the clock. I can’t make any changes to that. I have no control over that. The only thing we can control is continuing to play.’’
They’re doing that this week with three straight games started by rookies, who had one combined big-league appearance before Tuesday. Wada, a one-day, 26th-man callup for the doubleheader, might have earned another shot after the All-Star break. Dallas Beeler (one start two weeks ago) and Kyle Hendricks (debut) start the final two games in Cincinnati on Wednesday and Thursday.
With more trades certain to come before the July 31 deadline — Luis Valbuena and James Russell are among the likeliest candidates to go — the challenge of the last few days could last a few more weeks.
‘‘It’s always a challenge when you lose good guys like Samardzija and Hammel,’’ Tuesday’s Game 1 starter, Travis Wood, said. ‘‘As a start, we’ve just got to step it up. We’ve got a couple young guys coming up, so hopefully they can add a spark.
‘‘You can’t really worry about [the trades]. All you can do is wish them luck, but then you’ve got to keep focus right here. You knew it was going to happen. You didn’t really expect it to be both at the same time. But we were prepared. . . . It’s tough to lose guys like that, but we all know it’s a business. We all know how it rolls.’’
Coghlan, who has heated up, if anything, since the trades, said the bottom line is ‘‘being professional.’’
‘‘At the end of the day, if you don’t like it, play better — win more games, and guys stick around,’’ said Coghlan, who’s hitting .452 (14-for-31) through nine games on this trip, with six extra-base hits — 7-for-12 with two homers and a double in three games against the Reds.
‘‘You lose, then this is what happens,’’ he said. ‘‘It happened, and at this point you have to be able to control what you can control and prepare and go out and play.
‘‘I embrace the challenge the same way, regardless of [who’s here]. The relationships we have in here, we’ve got to continue building. When you have new faces, embrace them and try to build that. . . . They’re in charge [in the front office], and they’re going to make decisions. You’ve just got to go do your [job].’’