WASHINGTON -- He is the manager of the Chicago Cubs, but Dale Sveum shifted into papa bear mode Wednesday.
The second consecutive humbling defeat to the Washington Nationals wasn’t even completed before Sveum began his attack.
With the Cubs’ staff chirping at home-plate umpire Larry Vanover following some questionable calls in the fifth inning, Sveum moved to protect his troops.
“I just don’t think that’s right when you’re looking at our dugout for no apparent reason at all,” Sveum said, referring to Vanover.
Sveum did admit that the bench had expressed displeasure with Vanover’s calls. In particular question seemed to be when Welington Castillo struck out looking.
“But nothing at all to warrant that,” Sveum said of Vanover’s looks toward the Cubs dugout. “I took it that he was looking at me.”
After getting ejected from the game, Sveum got in a little more arguing on the field before retreating to the dugout. The Cubs offense didn’t have any hits in five innings before Sveum was tossed and had four hits and a run over the final four innings after he was gone.
But Sveum wasn’t done being a protector. With Cubs starter Chris Volstad giving up three home runs over a four-batter stretch in the third inning, Sveum was asked about the return of the old Volstad, when a bad inning would doom his starts.
“I don’t know why you always want to beat down Volstad all the time, about the old Volstad or whatever,” Sveum said. “That’s a tough lineup, and he couldn’t keep the ball down today, bottom line.”
With 100 losses fast approaching and the franchise record of 103 within reach, Sveum looked as edgy as he has all season. He was asked if the pressures of a tough season are getting to him. He said that it was the moment that agitated him and it wasn’t a cumulative effect.
But it had to be hard watching the Cubs get pushed around by the Nationals the past two days. Ultimately, it wasn’t a surprise to see Gonzalez dominate his offense.
“That’s (Gonzalez’s) stuff all the time,” Sveum said. “He’s just facing a lineup that isn’t one of the better lineups in baseball and that’s going to help him too. This series so far, obviously what we can make out of it, that it’s just men playing against boys right now.”
Never mind that one of those men was Nationals 19-year-old slugger Bryce Harper, who hit two home runs Wednesday. Sveum’s point was no less valid.