Renteria to players: Keep grinding

CHICAGO -- It wasn't exactly a long closed-door meeting, but Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria felt the need to address his team after a 13-3 loss to the San Diego Padres on Thursday night.

"Spoke to these guys just to encourage them," Renteria said before the Cubs began a new series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. "Things haven't gone as well as we would have liked over the past couple of weeks. We need to keep sticking together."

That's an understatement considering his team followed a modest four-game win streak by dropping 13 of their next 16 games after the July 4 trade of pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. It's left the Cubs a season-high 18 games (41-59) under .500 heading into Friday's affair.

"It was just quick," Renteria said of his meeting. "We didn't quit [Thursday]. We fell behind by quite a few runs, but we were still grinding. They kept playing the game. The need to know we appreciate them continuing to play the game."

This might be one reason Renteria was brought in to manage the team. His "every day positive attitude" is going to be needed as the Cubs make do without the veteran pitchers they traded and as young players go through their growing pains. For example, newcomer Arismendy Alcantara is just 4-for -his-last-21. And rookie reliever Brian Schlitter just gave up six runs without getting an out on Thursday.

"It's not a time to beat people up," Renteria said. "It's a time to let them know 'Hey, you guys are grinding and things haven't gone well but they will.'"

Renteria uses the word "grind" often. He knows that's the type of club he has right now. The Cubs aren't going to have many pretty wins without their veteran pitchers around and Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro can't do it alone on offense. When he stops using that word is when the talent has arrived for the Cubs. We're not there yet.

"We have 61, 62 ballgames of the regular season left," Renteria said. "We have to keep grinding."