CHICAGO – Have the Chicago Cubs recent mental gaffes become a reflection of the coaching staff?
Manager Dale Sveum took the question in stride Thursday saying that he’s fine with taking the heat for some things, but what he has witnessed lately has fallen out of the realm of what is taught by him and his staff.
“I don’t take it that way because what (would be) more of a reflection (of the coaches) is screwing up bunt plays or fundamental breakdowns and all that,” Sveum said. “I don’t take anything to heart when a player gets picked off standing and gazing at the stars.”
That player who got picked off in Wednesday night’s game against the Reds was Luis Valbuena. After getting the Cubs to within a run on his RBI double in the sixth inning, Valbuena wasn’t paying attention when he was picked off second base.
“It seems we have one of these things every three, four days that are not even explainable, things that obviously you don’t practice like staying on a base when a pitcher isn’t on a mound,” Sveum said. “There are things that just boggle your mind from major league players that have played a lot of baseball to be looking off into left field before the pitcher is even on the mound. These things are unacceptable.
“Why these things happen, it drives you crazy as a manager because there is no rhyme or reason for things like that to happen.”
Just last week, Dave Sappelt cost the Cubs a run when he was thrown out at third base while tagging up. The problem was that Starlin Castro was also tagging up from third base and Sappelt was tagged out before Castro scored, costing the Cubs a run. They went on to lose a 1-0 decision to the Astros.
Most high profile this season have been mental gaffes by Castro.
There was a thought Sveum might bench Valbuena, but the left-handed hitter was in the lineup Thursday at third base over struggling rookie Josh Vitters.
“(Valbuena) feels as bad as anybody,” Sveum said. “It’s not one of those things where he was dogging it or anything like that. Why these brain farts happen it’s not to bench somebody over it. It’s hard to fathom something like that happens, especially in a key moment in a ballgame. We had them on the ropes right there.”