8/25/2013 3:56 P.M. ET
Samardzija getting benefit of doubt from Sveum
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- Jeff Samardzija appreciated that Cubs manager Dale Sveum left him alone in the eighth inning Saturday to get out of a jam.
Sveum downplayed his role, saying catcher Dioner Navarro did go out to talk to Samardzija during the inning when the Padres loaded the bases with none out. They did score one run, but Samardzija escaped.
"That's your No. 1 guy and a guy you trust," Sveum said Sunday. "He's obviously a competitor and a guy who can reach back. We've seen it before -- he's a guy you can trust to get out of stuff like that. It's their game. Whether it works sometimes or not, it's always good after the fact. Those meetings, sometimes you get the guy thinking too much. When it gets to that point, his competitiveness and the football mentality has to come out in those kind of settings."
Samardzija has given up three runs over 17 innings in his last two starts, striking out 12. What can he do to maintain this kind of consistency?
"You can always look back on his outings, and it's usually strike one," Sveum said. "[He has to get] strike one to where he can use his split and get strike one with things other than his fastball, too. A lot of guys try to jump on him early and swing at first pitches, so he has to keep them a little off balance."
Castillo returns to Cubs lineup for finale
SAN DIEGO -- Catcher Welington Castillo was back in the Cubs' lineup Sunday after missing a few days to rest sore ribs.
Castillo was injured on Aug. 17 while making an awkward throw.
"We gave him enough days off and he's feeling a lot better," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
Castillo said he's still a little tender, but doesn't want to go on the disabled list with so little time remaining in the season.
"I'm not 100 percent, but I have to get through the season," said the catcher, who feels it more when he's hitting than when he's making a throw from behind the plate.
Castillo, who has not played since Wednesday, went 3-for-26 in his last eight games, and was batting .265 entering Sunday's finale vs. the Padres.
No escaping LA aces in upcoming series
SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers held Zack Greinke back when they faced the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Aug. 1-4 because they wanted the right-hander to face the Cardinals. There's no escaping Greinke or Clayton Kershaw this week when the Cubs head to Dodger Stadium.
Jake Arrieta (1-0, 3.71 ERA) will face Greinke (12-3, 2.91) on Monday, and Travis Wood (7-10, 3.22) will start Tuesday against Kershaw (13-7, 1.72) in the first two games of the three-game series.
"Why did you have to bring that up? Let's talk about something else," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said when asked about the Dodgers series.
Told that he'll have the bus ride from San Diego to Los Angeles to think about it, Sveum laughed.
"You don't want to deal with that until it happens," he said. "They're on a roll that baseball hasn't seen in many, many years. Part of it is, obviously, the offense. But when you have Greinke, Kershaw going two out of five days, you're talking about two guys who can win Cy Youngs in any given year or throw a no-hitter on any given day. That's not something you want to think about until you arrive at Dodger Stadium [Monday]."
The Dodgers swept the four-game series at Wrigley, outscoring the Cubs, 16-6.
Sveum sticking with Rizzo in two-hole
SAN DIEGO -- As of now, Anthony Rizzo will stay in the No. 2 spot in the Cubs' batting order. Manager Dale Sveum doesn't see any reason for a change.
"We've scored six, four, six and three [runs] -- that's a plethora for us," Sveum said of the Cubs' offense since the switch.
Is there really a correlation?
"No, but I like to think there is," Sveum said. "It's not where you want things to be, obviously."
That's because the Cubs project Rizzo as their No. 3 batter, which is where he has hit for 100 games this season. In four games at the No. 2 spot, he's 5-for-18 with four RBIs, including two home runs the first day he was inserted there.
"He had a big day [Wednesday], and the line drive two nights ago in the gap and I think the at-bats and the aggressiveness is better and the pitch selection," Sveum said of Rizzo's approach. "Where you hit in the lineup is irrelevant for the most part. Sometimes it does give you a little relaxation, where you don't have to worry about things. Everybody's different."
Part of the reason for the switch was because Rizzo has scuffled with runners in scoring position. He was batting .178 this season with runners in scoring position, with 39 RBIs.
Sveum doesn't feel Rizzo's approach has changed since Alfonso Soriano, who batted behind him, was traded. The Cubs manager feels pitchers attack a hitter's weaknesses.
"There are no fastball counts anymore," Sveum said. "You sit there and think, 'Oh, he should get a fastball here because Joe Blow is hitting behind him.' It doesn't happen any more. You'd rather throw a 3-2 slider no matter who's hitting behind him than let that guy hit a single or whatever. You're going to get pitched to your weaknesses no matter who's hitting behind you."
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.