07/07/12 4:05 PM ET
Cubs thriving under hitting coach Rowson
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
"He does great work," Sveum said of Rowson, who was the Cubs' Minor League hitting coordinator before the switch. "He's done a great job since he's been here. It's a different message and just a fresh new voice really. He has different ideas.
"The unfortunate thing about hitting is when you come in like that to voice your opinion, it just doesn't happen overnight," said Sveum, who was the Brewers' hitting coach for three seasons before taking the Cubs job. "It's a difficult job and process for guys to change their thinking. It might be mechanical, it might be a whole overhaul sometimes."
Rowson doesn't need to worry about Tim Buss taking his job even if the Cubs' strength and conditioning coach gave outfielder Reed Johnson some tips. Johnson had four hits on Friday and said after the game that Buss suggested he move closer to the plate.
"I told [Buss] to make sure he spends a lot of time in the cage today," Sveum said.
Sveum not worried about Marmol's shaky outing
NEW YORK -- Carlos Marmol made Friday's final score a lot closer than it should have been, but Cubs manager Dale Sveum wasn't worried about his closer.
The Cubs led, 8-4, going into the ninth, and Marmol gave up a solo homer to Jordany Valdespin, then walked the bases loaded and served up a two-run single to Ike Davis. He got out of the jam when Lucas Duda hit a sharp line drive to Marmol, who caught it and doubled Davis off first base. The Cubs won, 8-7.
"Like I told Marmol today, 'Don't think too much into that,'" Sveum said. "[I told him], 'It wasn't like you were all over the place -- you were just missing with some sliders and things didn't work out, but the bottom line is you got the out when you had to and jammed the guy and got a soft liner, and fortunately we got a double play out of it.'"
The bottom line, Sveum said, is that Marmol threw strikes when he had to.
"I told him, on paper it didn't look too good, but we've seen the other ones where they were much worse than that," Sveum said.
How does Sveum handle those kind of innings when his closer is struggling?
"Once it gets to that point, my job is over, really," Sveum said. "You've got a four-run lead and you bring your closer in, we're going to win it, they're going to tie it, or they win it. ... It's up to the players to do their job after that.
"If they tie it, then you start managing all over again."
Starlin, Sveum talk positioning on bench
NEW YORK -- Starlin Castro was quizzed during Friday's game, and he apparently passed the test.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum decided to not start Castro for the first time this season and wanted the 22-year-old shortstop to sit near him and bench coach Jamie Quirk in the dugout during the game. They threw some questions at Castro, sort of a pop quiz on defensive positioning.
"I think he was having fun with it and kind of needed that," Sveum said. "A day off is a day off, but it really isn't in the National League, so I told him, make sure you're ready to go somewhere in the sixth inning."
Castro, who will be making his second All-Star appearance with the National League team Tuesday, did get into the game in the seventh in a double-switch, and he has played in all of the Cubs' games this season.
How were his answers?
"They were good," Sveum said. "I can't tell you what the questions were, but he had the right answers to all of them."
Ryan Dempster will open the second half on Friday when the Cubs play host to the D-backs for the first game after the All-Star break.
Dempster (3-3, 2.11 ERA), who will be activated off the disabled list and start Sunday in the series finale against the Mets, will be followed by Paul Maholm (6-6, 4.62) and Matt Garza (4-7, 4.32) against Arizona. Travis Wood (4-3, 3.05) will start July 17 against the Marlins followed by Jeff Samardzija (6-7, 4.77).
Cubs Minor Leaguers Ian Dickson (@dicksoni), James Pugliese (@Pugs51), Roderick Shoulders (@RockBigFly24) and Tayler Scott (@taylerscottsa), who are all with Class A Boise, had a friendly competition with Class A Peoria third baseman Dustin Geiger (@D_Geiger) on Saturday while riding their respective buses to games. They tried to see who could get the most Twitter followers. The two sides raised the ante, too, with Scott offering a traditional African bead bracelet and the Chiefs offering autographed items.
Double-A Tennessee outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha will participate in the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday in Kansas City. Ha was batting .259 in 81 games with the Smokies with 19 doubles, one triple, three home runs and 27 RBIs.
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.