MILWAUKEE — We’ll get the housekeeping stuff out of the way first.
The Cubs are not sending either Starlin Castro or Anthony Rizzo to the minor leagues.
Before Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, manager Dale Sveum was talking about players having to “perform” at the big-league level to stay.
When a reporter suggested to Sveum that players such as Castro, Rizzo and veteran Alfonso Soriano aren’t guys the Cubs are going to replace, Sveum went back to the theme he sounded most of the weekend, when poor defense played a part in the Cubs getting swept in three games.
“You have to perform,” Sveum said. “The bottom line is you have to perform. Whether you need more development, you decide all those kinds of things. There is still accountability.
“I don’t think anything’s invincible if you’re not performing. That’s still the one main ingredient that has to happen to win baseball games.”
When Sveum was asked again about what options he might have to change things, he said: “Find options. If people keep playing like that, you have to find options. Get people playing time at Triple-A to figure this stuff out.”
Sveum never said the Cubs specifically were considering sending Castro or Rizzo out, but someone who wanted to infer something like that certainly could, even if it is a stretch.
The two young stars performed well enough in Sunday’s loss. Shortstop Castro extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a third-inning single. Rizzo followed immediately with his sixth home run of the season, a booming shot to center field.
Rizzo’s 6 homers and 14 RBI both lead the team. Castro has a hitting line of .301/.320/.466 with 4 doubles, a triple and 2 homers. He also has a team-high 4 errors, but he did not commit either of the 2 Cubs miscues Sunday.
“It’s tough,” Castro said. “The team isn’t playing right, right now. It’s pretty tough. We’ve got to keep together, keeping playing hard and see what happens.”
Sveum probably could have helped himself from a minor media tempest and some social-media angst about the two young stars by saying flat-out any speculation was silly, but he didn’t. Perhaps it was his way of putting the entire team on notice.
Realistically, there are very few veterans the Cubs could send out because of their service time. Castro and Rizzo, despite some hiccups, are still two of the most productive players on the team.
And then there’s that little matter of finding better players in the minor leagues. They just aren’t there.
“You can’t think about that,” said Rizzo, who opened last year in the minors before coming up in late June. “Everyone here is in the big leagues. No one wants to go down to the minor leagues.
“Whatever happens, happens. I’m sure this team is going to have a lot more transactions throughout the year. That’s every team.
“Guys are going to come and go. That’s part of the game, but you can’t worry about being sent down. I’ve done it before, and it never works out, if you think about that. You’ve just got to go out and play.”
This series ended with the Cubs outhitting the Brewers in each of the three games and 22-16 total. But the Cubs also committed 6 errors in the series, by six different players.
Starter Scott Feldman made 1 Sunday, dropping a high hopper with two outs in the fifth. Ryan Braun made him pay by crushing a hanging curveball over the wall in left-center.
“This is one of those games that falls squarely on me,” said Feldman (0-3). “I make that play, we’re still (ahead) 2-1, my pitch count’s down. It’s just a shame I didn’t make the play.”
The Cubs fell to 5-12, heading into a tough series at Cincinnati.
“You outhit a team every day and lose, it doesn’t happen very often,” said Sveum, whose Cubs outhit the Brewers 5-3 but were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, making them 17-for-121 (.140) in that department for the season.
“It’s the same thing that’s going on right now. It’s just a broken record every day.”
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