04/02/11 6:56 PM ET
Pena has some tricks up his sleeve
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Pena worked on bunting this spring and tried to get on base with a bunt single when he led off the seventh inning in Saturday's 5-3 win over the Pirates. He reached on a walk instead.
"When they're that exaggerated and one swing of the bat can't help us, why not?" Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "The fact that he's even interested says a lot about his ideas of team and helping a club win a game. Knowing him like I do, late in a game if he becomes accomplished like that, he'll do it all game."
Pena has bunted in the past.
"It's one of those tricks I have in my back pocket," he said. "It's not an easy thing to do. My heart starts racing 100 miles an hour when I start thinking about it. I try to control my breathing.
"If the situation is right and it's the right play, I'm going to do it," he said. "It all depends on how the game is going."
Cubs enter clubhouse to motivational message
CHICAGO -- When the Cubs players walked into the clubhouse Saturday, there were some words of wisdom on the message board.
"You can't see the rising sun if your eyes are fixed on the setting one," it read. "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it's called present. Conquer the now."
First baseman Carlos Pena was believed to be behind the message, but he said it was one of the clubhouse attendants. It definitely wasn't Cubs manager Mike Quade.
"The yin and the yang? These guys are way beyond smarts for me -- just go play," Quade said. "I talk way too much, but I'm not that philosophical. Just figure out a way to beat the Pirates."
Whoever did pen the message needs to use spell check. Yesterday was spelled "yesteday." What's important was the message.
"I like it," Pena said. "To be able to turn the page, and I'm talking about every cell in your body detaching yourself from the past and detaching yourself from the future and focusing on the now.
"If you think about it, you can handle the present moment. I can be totally present this second and give 100 percent this second, and that's doable. Sometimes when we try to take too much on, whether we're carrying some baggage from the past or thinking too far ahead into the future, then all of a sudden I'm absent from the present moment."
So, focus on the now, 100 percent on this pitch, this play. It's something the Cubs players have discussed. It may be the best way to shrug off an Opening Day loss or an 0-for-4 day or 100-plus years without a world championship.
What would Quade's saying be?
"Eight and a half innings at home," he said. "Let's play 8 1/2 [innings] at Wrigley."
Quade goes with gut for second-base platoon
CHICAGO -- Jeff Baker started at second base and Tyler Colvin was in right field for the Cubs against Pirates lefty Paul Maholm on Saturday, part of manager Mike Quade's evolving lineup.
Darwin Barney started at second and Kosuke Fukudome in right against right-hander Kevin Correia on Friday.
It's a strange platoon system. Both Baker and Barney are right-handed hitters, and both Colvin and Fukudome bat from the left side. Baker got the nod because of his .350 average against left-handers.
"Rarely do you have an ideal situation," Quade said. "You watch them play and hope they all contribute and work like heck to find a way to get them all playing time."
Since it isn't a left-right platoon, what is it?
"It's more of a play it by ear, pay attention to performance and matchups and a lot of stuff there and see if anybody takes the job with the playing time they've gotten," Quade said. "'Fuke' got off to a great start [on Friday]. I'd like to see Colvin play well today. 'Bake's' done a nice job for us in situations we've used him. A lot of it will evolve, especially as the first month goes."
Quade has the same problem Lou Piniella did in that he has four outfielders for three spots in Fukudome, Colvin, Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano.
"I want all four of them to make my life miserable," Quade said, looking for them to play well, not badger him. "I'm dead serious. I'd love to see Colvin get three hits today and 'Sori' get a couple.
"For the most part, a lot of these things take care of themselves. I hope my middle infielders make life miserable for me so anybody can walk in here and demand playing time."
Starlin Castro is 5-for-9 in his first two games with a double and one RBI. "He's only 21 years old and he acts like he's been here for years, and I mean that in a good way," Carlos Pena said of Castro, who is the youngest player in the Major Leagues. "I'm also impressed that he doesn't seem to know how good he is. I like that humility in him. He's out there working every day, he's here early, he respects everyone, he respects the game, he respects veterans. We all know what the potential of this kid is. The sky's the limit. You may be seeing one of the best up and coming shortstops in the game. I'm just happy I have a good seat to watch him play." ... James Russell was wearing his hunting camouflage gear under his uniform during warmups. ... Mike Quade's pick in the NCAA Final Four? "I like Connecticut," he said. "I'm not rooting for Connecticut. Like the president of the United States, I'm probably dead wrong." He'd like to see Butler or VCU win. "That's good for basketball, good for all of us," he said. ... Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins led the Wrigley Field crowd during the seventh-inning stretch on Saturday. Actor John Cusack is scheduled to sing Sunday, followed on Monday by new WGN color analyst Keith Moreland and on Tuesday by former Cubs first baseman Mark Grace. Bulls television analyst Stacey King will sing Wednesday.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.