Sveum talks adjustments, Stewart, Barney
The weather has improved greatly at Wrigley Field for today’s noon matchup with the Reds. Jeff Samardzija takes on lefty Tony Cingrani, whom Cubs manager Dale Sveum says has a “super-live fastball.” The Cubs will go with their right-handed hitting lineup, with Jeff Samardzija on the mound:
As much as Sveum liked the plate appearances the Cubs had in yesterday’s ninth-inning rally that fell short against Aroldis Chapman, he wants to see those kinds of adjustments during the whole game.
“These are the things we have to do all the time, not just because we see 98 (mph), but 94 is not a whole lot different than 98,” he said. “We’ve got to make the same adjustments. We have to understand that when things start getting over 91-92 miles an hour, you have to make adjustments with your hands and quickness. You can’t keep the same swing, and you can’t say, ‘This is a guy I can hit a home run off of. No, this is a guy I have to keep the line moving to get us singles and doubles and things like that.’”
Sveum also made it quite clear that third baseman Ian Stewart has it all riding on himself to get back to the major leagues after the Cubs optioned him to Class AAA Iowa Friday. Stewart had been at Iowa, but on a rehab assignment.
“He’s down there as a Triple-A player now,” Sveum said. “Valbuena and Ransom are our third basemen. That’s the way it is now.”
Ransom is at .250/.323/.643 with 3 homers and 4 RBI. Valbuena is at .253/.344/.481 with 5 homers and 13 RBI. The Cubs picked up Ransom off waivers from San Diego on April 16.
“He’s been around a long time,” Sveum said. “You know he’s going to hit left-handers. He’s got a chance to hit homers. He’s always hit homers. He’s going to strike out a lot against right-handed pitching. But he’s always been very dependable in the field at every position, a very accurate arm. He’s a no-panic kind of defensive player. We knew what we were getting. Obviously, he’s done a really nice job at the plate.”
Sveum also was blunt in talking about second baseman Darwin Barney’s struggles at the plate. Barney struck out to end Friday’s game. He also hit into 2 double plays. I asked what Barney had to do.
“A lot of things,” he said.” We don’t have enough time for it.”
So Dale elaborated: “Mechanical, more with him. I don’t know if pull is the right word, but the bat head has got to get to a certain point quicker, so to speak. It’s a lot of mechanical. The backside needs to be better. I think more aggressiveness but being able to lay off. He’s been good lately laying off pitches and getting his walks, but we all know there’s that fine line. Then balls get too deep and you’re 0-2 and had two really good pitches to hit. There’s a lot of process that goes into all this, but hitting the fastball is the No. 1 thing you’ve got to be able to do to be successful in the big leagues.”
Friday was another light day in the minors because of weather. Class AAA Iowa and Class A Daytona got weathered out.
The Kane County Cougars (A) swept a doubleheader from Bowling Green, 4-2 and 3-1. In Game 1, Rock Shoulders hit a game-winning 2-run homer in the 11th. Shoulders, the Cubs’ minor-league player of the month for April, was 2-for-6. Tayler Scott got no decision, working 5.2 innings and giving up 5 hits and 2 runs while walking two and striking out one.
In Game 2, Ian Dickson worked 4.2 innings, giving up 2 hits and 1 unearned run. Bijan Rademacher was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Jeimer Candelario was 1-for-2 with a walk, a double and 2 runs. Shoulders hit a double, recording his team-leading 20th RBI. Lefty Brian Smith worked 2.1 innings, striking out five, working 2 or more innings for the fifth time in 7 appearances.
Class AA Tennessee lost 3-2 at Mississippi. Alberto Cabrera got no decision, pitching 6 innings and giving up 2 hits and no runs while walking two and striking out eight. His ERA is 3.31. Ronald Torreyes (.340) was 2-for-5. Christian Villanueva hit his team-leading seventh double.