By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) Leadership can be a nebulous term when you look at a losing and evolving team. In the case of the Chicago Cubs, no single individual has emerged as of yet as the leader.
Often, people point to leadership and winning sharing an equal role in the emergence of a young team. In fact, you rarely here about who the leaders are on teams like the Astros and Cubs who are at the bottom of the standings. In essence, that’s where leadership roles begin to manifest themselves.
“They just kind of develop on the way to getting better,” Cubs reliever Jose Veras said. “When I was with the Pirates, we did not have big names, but we had a good team. The leadership came about through the manager Clint Hurdle. He taught us how to be consistent and positive every day. He would say give us three good hours of work from the 25 of you, then you can go home and feel good about your job and teammates. Eventually, (Andrew) McCutchen developed into the guy.”
Veras has seen all kinds of leaders in his world tour of baseball that has had him on five teams since 2011.
“Pitchers can be leaders,” Veras said. “Mariano Rivera was one in New York and Kerry Wood was in Cleveland when i was there. A leader will stand up and get people feeling better about the team’s chances even when things look bad. I can’t say who will be the leader on the Cubs because that will happen on its own time.”
Veras pointed to manager Rick Renteria having the same qualities he saw in Hurdle in Pittsburgh.
“Rickey has shown all of us he has our back,” Veras said. “We have a good manager here, he is a good leader. He comes here every day with the same attitude. He always has a positive way of talking to you and the team. If we lose, he is back the next day with a good approach preaching a win that day.”
Renteria has been ejected a league-high three times this season, protecting his players in each instance.
“(Renteria) has proved to all the players and coaches he has our back,” Veras said. “We know he is going to be there and fight for us. He proved that right away. A player or two will also turn into a leader here. He doesn’t have to be the best player, but he does have to contribute. Leaders bring all the guys together, like Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter in Detroit. It will happen here soon enough. I see guys here that play hard like (Anthony) Rizzo and (Starlin) Castro that might become the leaders here. Even a guy like (Darwin) Barney who will stand up and say things to the team. We have (Jeff) Samardzija and (Jason) Hammel, they will say something when they need to.
“I can’t say who the leader will be here, but that will happen on its own.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.