<
>

Renteria finding moral victories

CHICAGO -- It sounds as if Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria is resigned to moral victories less than a month into the season. You can’t blame him. His team isn’t talented enough to win more than their share of actual games so the moral kind will have to do for the 5-12 Cubs.

“It was fun for me to see [Cincinnati Reds closer Jonathan] Broxton warming up in the ninth inning of an 8-2 ballgame yesterday [Sunday],” Renteria said Monday afternoon. “These guys didn’t quit. We kept it going. Broxton was hot. He was waiting to see what was going to happen.”

Yes, Broxton was up in the ninth inning as the Cubs put a couple of players on base, but the game was still well in hand for the Reds and simply having a pitcher warm up doesn’t sound like much to brag about. But Renteria is trying to grasp onto anything to keep his team focused. Even in losing he wants the Cubs to have fun.

“If they go out there and live in misery for nine innings, that’s kind of tough to exist,” he said. “The constant is to know that every time they go out on the field you have a chance to win.”

You can only believe that for so long. Soon -- if not already -- the Cubs needs to transition this season from “team” to “individual,” as in which individuals are carrying their weight and which ones might be here long term. All the “we never quit” stuff is great but most teams don’t quit, especially in April.

The Cubs can fight tooth and nail all season but if the good prospects and mainstays are struggling -- or not playing -- it won’t mean a thing. You win with talent and production, not with cheerleading.

“I see bits of improvement,” Renteria said. “The process will lead to the ultimate goal.”

Renteria is correct about that last statement and that’s what the Cubs should be focusing on. And yes, it does include playing hard until the end. But they need the right players on the field, playing every day for nearly 162 games to get the most out of this season. Experience trumps playing hard -- or having fun.

“I come out to the ball field and quite frankly by default I’m really happy I’m out here,” Renteria said. “The icing on the cake is the victory.”

The Cubs could use some frosting.