By Bruce Levine
(CBS) — Run production has been a serious concern for the Cubs since losing Alfonso Soriano last July in a trade to the Yankees. Although no one expected the team to contend for a post-season berth, the run-scoring failure has been a huge weight for the coaches and players to deal with.
“I thought we would be a little better and back on track,” manager Rick Renteria said after watching his club take a series for the first time this year against St. Louis over the weekend. “We still have to press out the situation and get better at grinding out at bats. We need to put balls in play with impact, in hitters counts. There are things that are being addressed on a daily basis, and continue to be worked on.”
The question is: Where will the run production come from? Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Welington Castillo have all had productive starts in the first 30 games. Those players individually cannot supply enough slugging power to get it done alone. Third baseman Mike Olt has been a frustrating player to watch over the first five weeks of the season. He has put up some impressive power shots, (five home runs ); however, the batting average is just not there yet. Cub outfielders have not driven in runs or hit in the clutch so far.
Outstanding starting pitching for the most part has been wasted do to an evolving bullpen and lack of run support. “One of the things we are trying o do is to make sure guys do not put too much pressure on themselves,” Renteria said. “If one guy isn’t getting a pitch to hit, they let the next guy get it done.”
Renteria was asked about the woeful production from the outfielders so far this season. He balked at isolating them from the rest of the squad.
General Manager Jed Hoyer did address the issue.
“It goes without saying that the outfield offense has struggled so far. It has to get better. The guys that have struggled have played below where they will end up being at the end of the year. If there is an area that I think will bounce back and out-perform what they did the first five weeks of the season, it is the outfielders.”