Saturday, April 6, 2013
Cubs hitting: Too early to panic
By Jesse Rogers
ATLANTA -- The Chicago Cubs are struggling at the plate, that much we know. Why it's happening? That's a little more difficult to figure out.
"I'd be lying to say we aren't struggling," manager Dale Sveum said before his team played the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night. "But it's too early to push the panic button. There's not much we are going to do. These guys are the core guys. They're going to come around. Unfortunately right now we have just about everybody not swinging the bat well right now."
Sveum can't do much to the lineup when Starlin Castro (.188), Anthony Rizzo (.083) and Alfonso Soriano (.133) aren't hitting. Rizzo, in particular, has had issues since his first swing of the season produced a home run. But that was Monday. He hasn't had a hit since.
"He starts analyzing and thinking too much about what the pitcher is going to do to him instead of just getting a good pitch to hit," Sveum said. "He's trying to guess along with each pitch."
Said Rizzo: "That's baseball. It's four games. ... Hitting is contagious. Once someone gets going I'm sure we'll all get going."
A look inside the dismal offensive team numbers (.133 BA, .188 OBP) shows the Cubs have the smallest (0.79) ground ball to fly ball ratio in the National League. In other words, they are flying out the most. That coincides with their hitting philosophy of working from the top of the strike zone on down. They want their hitters driving the high pitches. But most are turning into fly outs instead of line drives that can’t be tracked down.
"The approach hasn't been that bad," Sveum said. "We've gotten some good pitches to hit. We're just not doing much with it."
The Cubs want the "high pitch" philosophy to stick but if the choice is a high, warning track fly ball or a grounder in the infield, grounders have at least a chance at sneaking through. Dave Sappelt (.000) said after Friday's 4-1 loss he was expanding the strike zone late in the game since nothing was falling in. In other words, getting frustrated. Is that the case for the struggling veterans as well?
"Not frustration because it's too early," Soriano said. "Sooner or later we want to pick up the offense. ... It's nothing to worry about. There are a lot of good hitters on this team."
The Cubs have yet to prove that to be true.