CHICAGO – When talking about baseball, former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver said: “This isn’t football. We do this every day.”
Cubs president Theo Epstein sounded a variation of that theme when talking with reporters before Monday’s home opener at Wrigley Field.
Epstein’s message is that we’re into only a handful of games and that it’s useless to draw conclusions from small sample sizes.
He drew on the baseball-football analogy when asked about two of the Cubs’ key players: third baseman Kris Bryant and pitcher Yu Darvish, who is scheduled to start Wednesday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Neither Bryant nor Darvish is off to a blazing start.
Bryant was hit by a pitch and had an RBI double in Monday’s 10-0 victory over the Pirates in the Wrigley Field opener. But his line through 10 games is .233/.313/.395 with one homer and six RBIs. The home run came in the season opener March 28 at Texas.
“You can’t start to analyze baseball like football,” Epstein said. “I don’t know how many at-bats he has so far, but it’s the equivalent of a quarterback dropping back on his first play from scrimmage and missing a guy open on an out pattern. Get the ball again and hit him between the numbers next time.
“Kris is an elite player. He’s healthy. He’s going to find his one swing. He’s going to lock in and put up the numbers that he always puts up. It’s certainly fair game for you guys (media), but for us, it doesn’t serve us any purpose to sort of microanalyze guys’ small samples. He might turn things around with a big series here.”
Darvish has made two starts, going 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA and a WHIP of 2.20, having given up seven hits and 11 walks in 62/3 innings. In his season debut March 30 at Texas, he walked seven in 22/3 innings
“I think the first start, obviously, he was out of sorts,” Epstein said. “He had a hard time throwing strikes. The second start (in Atlanta), there were a lot of positives. His stuff, especially his slider and cutter … he faced a little bit of adversity there and struggled a little bit, and the outing was over pretty quickly.
“But hopefully he can build on the positives and have a good start on Wednesday night. I don’t think it’s appropriate to sort of issue start-to-start referenda on our starting pitchers as we go. He’s looking to settle in.”
Checking in on Edwards, Happ
Reliever Carl Edwards Jr., demoted by the Cubs to Triple-A Iowa on Saturday, pitched in his first minor league game of the season Monday and picked up the win at Nashville. Edwards worked 11/3 innings, giving up two hits and no walks while striking out three.
Infielder-outfielder Ian Happ had a two-out, RBI single in the game. Happ, optioned to Iowa near the end of spring training, entered Tuesday 5 for 23 (. 217) with two doubles and seven RBIs.
Manager Joe Maddon will try to keep tabs on both from afar.
“I normally don’t check in with guys that are sent back, but I may check in with those two guys,” Maddon said. “It’s up to them to perform well. Then it’s up to [the Cubs] having a need here or there. They could both add a lot to us as they do get back in the flow up here. You don’t ever set time lines in situations like that. They have a tremendous future ahead of them, but you’ve got to get things done right, right now, before you’re asked to come back.”