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Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Schierholtz gives Cubs some lefty power

By Bruce Levine

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs have been working on getting better players and training them to have more quality at-bats since manager Dale Sveum and his coaching staff took over the club in 2012. One of those new performers got the job done on Tuesday evening against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Nate Schierholtz’s two-run home run was the difference in the team’s 2-1 win over Cards’ starter Lance Lynn. Patience has been preached to all the Cubs’ hitters by the coaching staff.

“I just got ahead in that count,” Schierholtz said. “The count got to 3-1 and I got a good pitch to hit.”

Schierholtz
Nate Schierholtz is greeted by left fielder Alfonso Soriano after hitting a two-run homer.
The Cubs front office detected a major flaw in the organization after beginning the rebuilding process. On-base percentage and left-handed hitters of consequence were determined to be the major needs. Some of that problem has been rectified. Sveum was recently able to start a lineup with eight lefty bats during one game last week.

“That is why I talk about having (lefty hitters) in the lineup,” Sveum said. “They make pitchers work that much harder to get you out. The pitch counts get up and you are just going to see a lot more good pitches.”

David DeJesus has been the poster child for what the franchise envisions being a prototypical Cubs hitter of the future. The veteran outfielder has a .358 on-base percentage compared to a team OBP OF .301. The front office signed him to a two-year deal in one of the first moves they made after president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer took control of the baseball operations department in October 2011.

The idea of having more left-handed batters came up again this week. Sveum convinced the front office that having another good lefty bat was a better idea than keeping an unproductive right-handed hitter (Dave Sappelt) on the bench. Former Red Sox and A’s outfielder Ryan Sweeney was called up from Triple-A.

“There were some good at-bats,” Sveum said after the Cubs’ victory. “Lynn’s fastball -- for not being 98 mph up there -- plays like it is 96 or 98. He throws such a heavy fastball, he doesn’t need to throw a whole lot else.”

Schierholtz’s home run was his first go-ahead game-winner as a Cub. He now has had at least one RBI in five of his last six games.