When Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum signed a three-year contract to join the organization after the 2011 season, he knew losing would be a part of the long-range winning formula.
Losing 101 games in 2012 was comparable to putting an entire 25-man roster on training wheels as they learn how to ride their first bicycle.
“Our guys played hard and, more importantly, improved during some tough times late last season,” the Cubs skipper said on ESPN Chicago 1000 “Talkin’ Baseball.”
“I was very happy with the effort of the players on a daily basis. We had no trouble getting people to work.”
The work ethic that Sveum teaches was ingrained in him as a young Milwaukee Brewers teammate of future Hall of Famers Robin Yount and Paul Molitor.
Sveum and his staff have been steadfast instructors, as well as mentors, to an evolving list of players. The entire group of baseball teachers has made upper management proud of the way they have fought the acceptance of losing.
After two spring trainings on the job, Sveum feels more prepared than ever for the challenges of a new season with a team that has drawn mostly low expectations outside of its own clubhouse.
“Everything gets so much more comfortable for the players that have been here two or three years now,” Sveum said.
“For myself, I know what to expect when I get back to Chicago. I know the living. I know the fans. I know the clubhouse and all the clubhouse people. For that matter, I know everyone in the organization.
“Everything gets easier the second time around.”
Sveum has had the initial luxury of a long-term deal from his bosses. In the future he will need the assurance of their support. A fourth-year option on Sveum’s deal will more than likely be picked up by the Cubs front office in the next six months. That in and of itself would be a nice reward for a job well done.
Such a gesture also would confirm a belief that Sveum and his staff will be around when the talent level on the field equals their continued commitment to win.