MILWAUKEE -- Like most pitching coaches, Chris Bosio of the Chicago Cubs tells it like it is. And right now he's trying to tell his staff -- especially his relief corps -- that it needs to be better.
"We have to get that bullpen figured out," Bosio said before the Cubs played the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night. "We have to produce."
Unlike the front office, or even manager Dale Sveum, an assistant coach like Bosio isn't concerned about the future or the word "rebuilding." He's about the here and now. And right now he has a bullpen in flux.
"It is what it is. You have to get these guys out there," Bosio said of two newcomers. "We have to get them on the mound."
New guy Kevin Gregg finally did get on the mound, in Friday's 5-4 loss to Milwaukee, for the first time this season. He promptly put two batters on base and was pulled.
Bosio knew Gregg would be rusty. Kameron Loe has pitched one inning in 11 days so expect some unneasiness when he gets out there again. Both pitchers were picked up off waivers, so they hadn't pitched much in quite some time.
"It's tough. Since they've been here, we've been in these really tight games, and all of a sudden we're in these one-run games and you really don't want to send a guy out there that hasn't pitched in a stadium in two weeks," Sveum said.
Fortunately for the coach, the starting staff has been solid. Going into Saturday's game, the starters had posted a collective 3.30 ERA, fifth lowest in the National League. But the bullpen has a 5.59 ERA, second highest in the majors.
"We're trying to stay away from slugging percentage and walks," Bosio said.
The Cubs haven't done an awful job in those categories. They're fourth best in the NL in slugging percentage against at .367 while giving up 50 walks in 15 games. That last stat could be better.
"We have to find ways to win these 2-1, 3-1 games," Bosio said. "I want more."
Everything is a work in progress for the Cubs staff. Or at least most things.
Bosio is still meeting the most recent new guys while trying to find the right buttons to push with first-time Cubs Scott Feldman and Edwin Jackson. He has been around the other starters longer, including Carlos Villanueva when they were both with the Brewers.
"Scott and Jackson we're getting to know," Bosio said. "We're trying to find out what makes them tick, what makes them comfortable."
All while trying to figure out what has been wrong with those relievers.
"Boz is a great guy to bounce questions off of," Feldman said. "We're lucky to have him. As the season goes on and he sees more of us pitching, maybe he'll see more stuff and get a better feel for what we like to do."
The thing that sticks out for the Cubs -- and must give Bosio headaches -- is their bullpen issues have come so early. There's plenty of time for fatigue and injuries, but two weeks in is a little too soon for Bosio to be dealing with so much.
"It's not easy, but we have no choice," he said. "That's baseball."