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updated: 4/18/2014 6:58 PM

Renteria has message for his 4-11 Cubs

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  • Emilio Bonifacio strikes out swinging during the seventh inning of the Cubs' 4-1 loss to Cincinnati on Friday at Wrigley Field.

      Emilio Bonifacio strikes out swinging during the seventh inning of the Cubs' 4-1 loss to Cincinnati on Friday at Wrigley Field.
    Associated Press

  • Cubs relief pitcher James Russell throws out Cincinnati Reds' Billy Hamilton at first base during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Friday, April 18, 2014.

      Cubs relief pitcher James Russell throws out Cincinnati Reds' Billy Hamilton at first base during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Friday, April 18, 2014.
    Associated Press

  • Cubs left fielder Junior Lake can' t make the catch on a double hit by Cincinnati Reds' Billy Hamilton during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Friday, April  18, 2014.

      Cubs left fielder Junior Lake can' t make the catch on a double hit by Cincinnati Reds' Billy Hamilton during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Friday, April 18, 2014.
    Associated Press

 
 

Until Friday, Cubs manager Rick Renteria was Mr. Positivity when it came to talking about his team. Even on rainy days, the sun was shining.

After Friday's 4-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds at windy and cold Wrigley Field, Renteria showed his first public signs of being unhappy with his team.

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It took Renteria several minutes longer to make his way to the postgame interview room than it usually does. That often signals there was some sort of team meeting or airing out in the clubhouse.

When asked about that, Renteria turned his head and seemed totally dismissive of the question.

However, he did talk about what seemed to be bothering him.

"I'll be honest with you," he began. "I concern myself more with the way we approach the game. If our approaches are good, if we're really focusing on what we're supposed to be doing, both at the plate and in the field, I'm good with it.

"Today, I think we were a little sloppy, in general. And Jeff (starting pitcher Samardzija) really kept us in the ballgame throughout. And I think we'll do better."

The Cubs lost their fifth game in a row as their record fell to 4-11. Last year, they were 5-10 after 15 games on the way to 96 losses. In 2012, they started 4-11 on the way to 101 defeats.

In the field, the Cubs committed 2 errors, leading to 2 unearned runs. They also allowed the Reds to steal five bases, including one where relief pitcher Justin Grimm had a runner picked off first base.

Catcher Welington Castillo said a message was delivered, in whatever forum Renteria delivered it.

"He said a lot of good things," Castillo said. "He's a positive guy. He's trying to be positive to the team, just to go on the field and play hard and do the best that we can to win the game.

"We've got to play hard every day, come in with a mindset that we've got to win. We've got to play nine hard innings. That's all that we can do.

"We need to get better in a lot of things. I know we're young and there's a lot of talent here. We can just come back and turn the things around."

The excitement of the day came in the seventh inning, when the Cubs scored their first run since this past Sunday's game at St. Louis. They were blanked in two games at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday before going six innings without a run Friday.

Once again, they wasted an excellent pitching performance by Samardzija, whose record fell to 0-2 despite a sparkling 1.29 ERA.

"It's just a matter of focus," Renteria said. "They know it. I think our players know it. It's a long season, but the reality is that good clubs really do grind out every single game. That's what we want to become. And I think it's a great lesson because we're playing in a great division, and we're going to be competing against clubs that have been in the playoffs most recently.

"Yeah, hey, listen, nobody's going to give us anything. So we're going to go out there, and every single day, if we fall short in the way we're supposed to approach the game, whatever it might be, we'll talk about it when we have to, and then we'll deal with it.

"I think that's the beauty of the division that we're in. I've said it since the beginning. We're in a division in which you have to play really good baseball. Good for us, because we better learn how to do it. And that's what we're trying to do"

Sounds like the perfect postgame speech to a team.

And maybe the one Renteria indeed delivered.

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