4/22/2013 11:55 P.M. ET
Barney flashes leather at second base
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- The Cubs' series against the Reds should feature some good defense at second base. Chicago features Darwin Barney, the reigning Gold Glove-winning second baseman, and Cincinnati has Brandon Phillips, who has won three of the last five top defensive awards.
"You just don't want [Phillips] to play well against you -- but he usually does," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
Sveum and Barney didn't plot what they need to do this season to retain the Gold Glove.
"There's certain things you don't have to talk about," Sveum said. "[Barney's] work ethic and everything is unmatched when it comes to trying to get better every day."
Barney missed the start of the season because of a left knee laceration suffered March 30 in the last spring game, and returned to the lineup on April 16.
"He's our anchor," first baseman Anthony Rizzo said of Barney. "He'll get to everything. It makes my job a lot easier knowing he'll be where he needs to be all the time. We need someone to make that play and step up."
Strange but true fact: The first ball hit to a Cubs second baseman this season resulted in an error. Brent Lillibridge started at second on Opening Day, and he couldn't handle Garrett Jones' grounder in Pittsburgh in the first inning.
But Sveum doesn't think the team's early struggles defensively were because Barney was absent.
"I hope that other players aren't making mistakes because one guy isn't on the field," Sveum said. "Since he's been back, we've made just as many [errors]."
Cubs' slow start upsetting to Sveum
CINCINNATI -- The Cubs' slow start certainly bothers manager Dale Sveum. Does he think about his job security?
"I'd be lying if I didn't think about [myself] through some of this stuff," Sveum said before Monday's game in Cincinnati. "That's stuff you don't have control over. I have control over my job and my coaching staff to prepare everybody every day, and that's all I can do."
The Cubs rank among the Major League leaders in errors, yet the starting pitchers had a solid 3.67 ERA, sixth best in the National League, entering Monday.
"It's gnawing on me a little more than last year," Sveum said. "Even though we lost last year, we didn't play this bad of baseball. We were losing in the beginning because of bullpen stuff and bad pitching or not throwing strikes. This year is a lot different because everything could be a lot different. We've swung the bats well for the most part. We haven't hit with men in scoring position and every error we make is magnified because we have to make a pitch behind that mistake and we haven't recovered from it."
What hurts is that the Cubs were one of the top defensive teams in Spring Training.
"We're all in this together -- myself, my coaching staff -- it's just not the players," Sveum said. "We have to get them to respond to all of us and get better. You're not going to out-work these guys. The preparation and the routines they have is as good as I've seen. That's not the problem.
"It's one of those things that you obviously hope it passes," he said. "We know we're going to make mistakes, we're not going to be perfect, but we also have to make the pitch to get out of it after we do make the mistakes."
The problem hasn't just been errors. The Cubs have struggled to make pitches when they need to.
"We're right there at the top of baseball in walks and hit batters, and it's a losing product when you walk more than everybody else," Sveum said.
In his second season at the helm, Sveum said he has full support from general manager Jed Hoyer and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. On Sunday, Sveum said no one on the team was "invincible" and that the Cubs would find "options" if needed. On Monday, he said he wasn't charging Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo as being responsible for all the team's mistakes.
"You guys asked me," he said of the media's questions. "Those guys couldn't get sent down, and I said nobody's exempt. They're not the only ones [making mistakes]."
And everyone has had a part in the Cubs' 5-12 start.
"Like I said, nobody's exempt," Sveum said. "Pointing [Castro and Rizzo] out, it doesn't mean they're it. ... I'm not pointing fingers at them or anything, I'm just saying, 'Hey, we're all [accountable] in this. I'm [not] exempt [from] being fired, so is my coaching staff. We're all in this together as a team.' As coaches, manager, we try to get people better on the team."
DeJesus laments just missing catch in Milwaukee
CINCINNATI -- David DeJesus just missed making a game-changing, highlight reel catch on Sunday, and he knows it.
In the fifth inning, Milwaukee's Yuniesky Betancourt lofted a ball to center leading off the fifth. DeJesus had to run back, and nearly snared the ball with a leaping catch at the wall.
"I caught it and hit [the wall], and it came sliding out, and I'm like, 'No!'" the Cubs center fielder said Monday. "Our outfield, we're trying to play a little more shallow to take away those little base hits. That was that one step I needed extra that would've given me time to jump straight up and not have to jump into a wall."
What's his favorite catch?
"My favorite one was in the Metrodome, and I robbed Torii Hunter, like over the wall, and I was running in [after the catch], and I'm like, 'C'mon, you've done this for years to everybody else -- I can't do it to you?'" DeJesus said. "That was my favorite one."
At Miller Park, DeJesus' leap was cushioned by the padding on the outfield wall. What about Wrigley Field?
"At Wrigley, that's going to hurt," he said.
Giants outfielder Angel Pagan is well aware of the brick wall at Wrigley. He admitted that he hesitated on a couple plays when the Giants were in Chicago recently.
"The ivy might have soothed it a little bit," DeJesus said. "You don't want to take that chance with the brick wall. The wall's going to win a lot of the time."
• Castro singled to center with one out in the third inning on Monday to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, the longest active streak in baseball.
Castro now has eight hitting streaks of 10 or more games since the start of the 2011 season, tied with the Yankees' Robinson Cano for the most during that stretch.
Castro smacked a RBI single off the Reds' Mike Leake in the third for career hit No. 552.
• Cubs pitcher Matt Garza will make his second Minor League rehab start on Wednesday for Double-A Tennessee, weather permitting.
Garza, who suffered a strained left lat Feb. 17 and missed all Spring Training games, was scheduled to throw 45-50 pitches.
He threw a simulated game on Friday at Miller Park when the Cubs were playing the Brewers.
• Top prospect Jorge Soler has a 10-game hitting streak at Class A Daytona, and was batting .378 this season entering Monday.
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.