Dale Sveum was still chapped, his mind still “boggled,” a day after Luis Valbuena got caught napping off second base and was picked off to end a sixth-inning rally in what turned into an 11-inning loss Wednesday night.
“It seems we have one of these things every three or four days that are just not even explainable,” the Cubs manager said. “You obviously don’t practice staying on a base when a pitcher isn’t on the mound – these are things that just boggle your mind.
“For major league players who have played a lot of baseball to be looking off into left field before the pitcher’s on the mound, these things get unacceptable. And why these things happen drives you crazy as a manager, because you just have no rhyme or reason for things like that to happen.”
The .219-hitting Valbuena was back in the lineup Thursday.
“He feels as bad as anybody,” Sveum said. “It’s not one of those things where he was dogging it or anything like that. Why these brain farts happen, it’s not to bench somebody over it. You just … it’s hard to fathom something like that happening, especially at a key moment in the ballgame when we had them on the ropes right there.”
Asked if such things are a reflection on the manager and coaching staff, Sveum said, “I don’t take it that way, because that’s more [related to] screwing up bunt plays or fundamental breakdowns. That can be a reflection.
“But I don’t take anything to heart when a player gets picked off standing and gazing at the stars.”
One thing Sveum seemed more adamant about was that lapses by this team at this time of year shouldn’t have anything to do with a fifth-place team having nothing to play for.
“We don’t have people here that are guaranteed jobs or anything like that. That alone is a motivating factor for stuff like that to not happen,” he said, “to where you’ve got to learn how to focus 300 pitches a game, nine innings, 10 innings, whatever it might be – to never let your guard down.
“Those are the things we’re evaluating for people that we want in this organization when we get ready to win.”