DENVER -- Holding firm a hat and a cheerful look, Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria smiled politely at each postgame question that came his way Wednesday night.
Makes you wonder what game he was watching.
After a closer look at the box score, and a second opinion, his team apparently was bent over a knee and spanked by one of the few teams with a worse record than his own -- the Colorado Rockies.
And his most reliable starting pitcher, Jake Arrieta, looked to be on one single mission in his first career start at Coors Field. And that was to run from Coors Field.
So what gives, skipper?
Well, a wide-zoomed perspective for his squad, according to Renteria.
“We have a long way to go,” he said, “but there should be excitement.”
He’s right, by the way.
In the same fashion that Cubs fans have become accustomed to not putting themselves through the neck strain of looking all the way down on the team’s record, Wednesday probably proved that the board that adds up all the points isn’t always worth a second look, either -- at least for the next 7 1/2 weeks.
Now, for the sake of hoping this optimism of the team’s future doesn’t become teasing to Cubs fans, hopefully that trend has a quick expiration.
Here's one good sign that it does:
Glitzy prospects aren’t the only thing on the up. There’s a pretty good comeback story mixed in there, and his name is Chris Coghlan.
Coghlan, an afterthought to most, signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs before the season and has been the essence of consistency ever since.
Of the Cubs’ regulars, he has the second-best on-base percentage (.382) and the highest batting average (.302).
“He comes in every day trying to show people he belongs here,” Renteria said. “I think he takes it upon himself as a thing of personal pride to play as well as he can every single day. I think he’s done that to this point.”
The Cubs have control of the outfielder through 2017, but it’s unclear if they’ll bring him back in 2015.
And here’s more stuff to get excited about: the young guys.
With Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara already in The Show and more top-level prospects supposedly on the way, the Cubs’ locker room is a happy place, even after crooked losses like their 13-4 drubbing Wednesday.
Despite his worst outing of his season, Arrieta was just one guy who is excited about what is happening around him.
“We are starting to get a nice mix of players who have been here and young guys,” Arrieta said before giving his two cents on the team’s two recent call-ups. “Guys like Alcantara and Baez both have showed they're capable of being big-time players for us. This is definitely an exciting time for us.”
Indeed, despite batting averages that are tough to look at, the organization has no hesitation with Alcantara or Baez.
As for pitching, the team's seemingly unfixed problem, the Cubs remain excited about that, too.
"We're realistic about the fact that not all prospects work out," Cubs president Theo Epstein told reporters last month in Washington. "And we're open to the fact at some point in the next few years we're going to make trades. There's a lot of work ahead, but we're excited about what lies ahead on the mound."
For now, apparently, the numbers don’t paint the real picture. That comes later.