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Sunday, March 4, 2012
Sveum's no-nonsense approach just right

By Bruce Levine

MESA, Ariz. -- In the Chicago Cubs' Cactus League opener on Sunday they looked as sloppy on the bases as they did the previous two seasons.

But even though Darwin Barney and David DeJesus were picked off first base in the same inning, there is a case you can make for this team being much better than they have been recently.

New Cubs manager Dale Sveum and his coaching staff should be worth a bunch of wins from a preparation standpoint alone. Sveum is a no-nonsense guy with an old school gruffness that may include the ‘Cub Way’-or-the-highway approach with his players and the media alike.


Example 1: A Cubs minor league player was late for the team’s first day of meetings on Feb. 18. Sveum made it clear to the young man that type of work carelessness would not be tolerated .

Example 2: A media member showed up late for a Sveum briefing and kindly asked the Cubs manager to repeat himself. Once again, Sveum let it be known that will not be the case in the future.

Perhaps everyone would do well to live by the advice of former Cubs manager Don Zimmer, “If you are early, you’re never late.”

While former managers such as Lou Pinella and Mike Quade would spend time shooting the breeze with the media, don ‘t look for the team’s new manager to be doing any sort of stand-up routine when his daily sessions are finished. The one thing you will get from him is a direct and honest answer to a direct and honest question. No tap dancing, no evading topics, just straightforward responses.

I like honest people who have no filter for redirecting questions. Sveum’s coaches are cut out of the same cloth he is, all smart, hard-working baseball men who have little time to talk but ample time to get the job done.

Communication with the players is not a problem for this group. Sveum masterfully took a simple bunting drill and made it into a focal point of bonding for players and coaches who were getting to know each other for the first time.

The Cubs front office did a fine job of hiring the right manager and coaching staff, now all they need to do is upgrade the talent level for these baseball educators to coach.