Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs pace picks up at meetings

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Cubs winter meetings update Tuesday night:

General manager Jim Hendry wouldn't get specific with names and trading partners, but he called Tuesday ``a good day'' and said ``we feel like the last 24 hours have gone well. And hopefully we get something done before we leave [Thursday].''

The Cubs met mostly with other teams on potential trades on Monday and spent Tuesday talking primarily to agents.

Among those, according to sources, were the agents for rehabbing pitcher Brandon Webb, and first basemen Carlos Pena and Adam LaRoche - although sources contradicted a report that suggested the Cubs were ``targeting'' LaRoche. The Cubs were expected to meet with Scott Boras, Pena's agent, again Tuesday night.

The Cubs did not deny a report circulating in the lobby that they're interested in using an unspectacular free agent pitching market to shop starter Tom Gorzelanny in trade talks. Detroit reportedly has expressed interest.

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL held a classy event honoring retiring managers Lou Piniella, Bobby Cox, Cito Gaston and Joe Torre Tuesday.

Afterward, Piniella praised new manager Mike Quade and encouraged fans to be patient as Ricketts family continues to ``learn the game'' into their second year of ownership.

``It's not an easy game, but they've got good people in the front office, a good staff on the field and the farm system,'' Piniella said. ``Give them some time. With the passion they have for it and the fact they want to win, they're going to be bring a winner to Chicago in a short period of time.''

Piniella called Quade a ``good baseball guy'' with vast, of sometimes overlooked, experience managing in the minors. ``I knew he had a passion for it and wanted an opportunity, and when Jim Hendry gave him that chance, he made the most of it,'' Piniella said. ``I wish him well.''

He also extended similar wishes to Ryne Sandberg, who left for the Philadelphia organization when Quade beat him out for the manager job.

``It had to be a tough decision for Jim Hendry. I know he agonized over it,'' Piniella said, ``but you have to make the choice, and the choice was Quade.''

ALSO ON TUESDAY, QUADE took his turn meeting with the media. His thoughts on a variety of topics:

On whether it's sunk in that he's the Cubs' manager:

``I guess. ... Probably the opening day of spring training will be a lot of fun and that's when it will really be, `OK, let's get after it.' ''

On baseball honoring retiring managers Lou Piniella, Bobby Cox, Cito Gaston and Joe Torre Tuesday:

``You can't be a young manager and not look up there and think, `I hope I can accomplish a half or quarter of what they did.' And I've said it before, but if Lou doesn't bring me on his staff [in 2007] - and he doesn't have to - then who knows where I'm at now. I'm fairly certain it would be a long shot sitting here, even longer than most of you thought it was anyway.''

On how much down time he spends on thinking about baseball:

``I don't have trouble separating it out when I'm away from the game. When I leave here, I'll be anxious and follow what Jim [Hendry] and Randy [bush] and our scouting group is doing for sure. But I can leave it behind, and I like to, and that's part of me recharging and getting ready for spring training.''

On whether Cubs need to decide quickly whether young pitcher Andrew Cashner should start or return to the bullpen:

``I don't think so. I think he's capable of doing what needs to be done. He needs to get better. His breaking ball needs to come along and the command and the rest of it. Whatever role he's in, it's going to be important for him to get better.''

On pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who enters spring training out of options:

``Samardzija has got a way to go. Cash made a lot of progress, and now we need to get Samardzija going and make that kind of progress and become a more effective pitcher as well.''

On Cubs' limited resources to make additions this winter:

``You find a way to get it done however you can do it, whether it's mixing and matching or trading or whether they do have some money. One way or the other, Im' going to manage the club that is put together when I get there.''

On new pitching coach Mark Riggins (who spent more than 20 years as a minor-league instructor before the promotion):

``My kind of guy. Has he spent more years down there than me? Less? He's a meticulous detailed guy and knows a lot of the young kids and knows the organization in and out. And our veteran group knows him. I would like to think it would be a smooth transition. Am I going to miss Larry [Rothschild]? Absolutely, as a friend and a pitching coach. But Riggins is the right fit, and he'll do a good job.''

On the value of the 24-13 finish last season on confidence into next season:

``I hope it did something for the confidence fo the club as a group and a lot of individuals. The fact of the matter is we pitched the living daylights the last five or six weeks. We put some runs on the board, but the pitching was incredible. ... We will take that confidence, and I think a whole bunch of [young] guys realized they can do this. But now we have to build on that.''

On whether young outfielder Tyler Colvin can make a good first baseman if necessary:

``I don't know if that's in the cards, but I do know that being creative and keeping an open mind in all of these things is important. Who knows? Fooling around with him last year out there may come in handy and we'll see how it shakes out. He's a good athlete and he's got good hands. Last year we never played him in a game, but he spent time around and looked comfortable doing it. You feel like the fundamentals of catching and doing some things would be good.''

On potential expectations of the fans:

``My expectations are normally higher than the fans. Now, reaction to those expectations might be a better question - how you deal with that.''

On public sentiment that Ryne Sandberg should have gotten the job and feelings to prove himself in that context:

``I don't blame them, and I get it. It's a heck of a deal when you have a guy that meant so much to the city. I learned a lot about myself those last six weeks and that was as important as anything. The record was great and the kids did a super job and all the rest of it, but I needed to find out in my own mind. I believed I could do it, but I learned a lot. And now I just need to keep proving to myself that this is an important situation and I'm going to do the best I can.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on December 7, 2010 7:49 PM.

Former Cubs manager Piniella: `I didn't quit.' was the previous entry in this blog.

Cubs reach agreement with 1B Pena is the next entry in this blog.

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