Dale Sveum was 127-197 in two seasons as the Cubs’ manager. When he was fired last September, his communication skills and ability to develop young players were questioned and cited for his dismissal.
Yet Sveum, now the Royals’ hitting coach, said he wouldn’t have done much different.
“That’s the way I am. Players know when you change and you’re not yourself. I am what I am,” Sveum said before the Royals’ 7-2 win Friday over the White Sox. “Maybe I would have left a pitcher in an inning more or took him out an inning earlier and all that, but I don’t think how I managed and managed people and the communication, I’m not going to change that way.”
Sveum tried to sound like a man focused on his new team and its awakening offense, not one looking back at his old team and how he was fired.
“No. I don’t really even think too much about it anymore,” Sveum said. “I’m focused here.”
Assuming that’s true, it’s hard to blame him.
Sveum had a rag-tag roster depleted by trades of veterans for prospects, forcing him to manage young, unproven and retread players. It was a handicap he referenced when he quipped how much he learned about the waiver wire. Charged with stewarding the development of Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, he took heat when Castro struggled trying to become a more patient hitter, perhaps against his nature.
But most of all, Sveum was a manager of a team not built for the present day. During his two seasons, all the talk was about the wave of coming prospects and the perceived riches a renovated Wrigley Field eventually would bring a franchise with a plummeting payroll.
“We knew where we were as an organization. That was a big part of it,” Sveum said. “We had some young prospects that were going to be there in whatever timeframe — two, three years down the road, and obviously Kris Bryant is pushing himself to get there quicker than anybody else. But we knew all that going in. It was nice to hear about all the new changes that were going to happen, but still, the odds when it was all finished, were we going to be there in 10 years when the whole thing was all done anyway?”
Instead of eventually managing Bryant and Javy Baez as a shiny new videoboard replays their every move, Sveum is less than a season removed from losing his first full-time managerial job.
He wants another one, but he didn’t seem burned by his previous shot.
“Oh, it’s worth it. Yeah, there’s no question,” Sveum said. “Like I said, you know what it is. You have to be a man to be in this game and understand that things don’t work out or somebody wants somebody else or the team’s not playing well and people get fired. That’s what happens in all sports.”
NOTE: The White Sox announced the signing of right-handed reliever Henry Rodriguez to a minor-league deal. Rodriguez will be put on the disabled list with Class AAA Charlotte.