The Rundown: Rookies Have Nice Day at Plate But Cubs Lose to Royals, Cubs Targeting Ben Zobrist, Dale Sveum Returns to Wrigley

Yesterday’s 8-4 loss to the Royals was one of peaks and valleys. Unfortunately it was more valleys.

Things started off ominously, with Royals’ shortstop Alcides Escboar homering on the first pitch of the game. Kansas City built a 4-1 lead through 5 1/2, and with the Royals’ bullpen looming in the background, the game almost felt out of reach.

But then in the 6th, with two outs, Jorge Soler got the green light on a 3-0 pitch and deposited it into the bleachers for a two-run homer and cutting the lead to one run.

That was great, but the Cubs were still down with the excellent Royals relievers heading into the game. First up was Kelvin Herrera, sporting a 2.12 ERA in 18 games. However, nobody seemed to tell Addison Russell, who proceeded to tie the game with a home run of his own in the bottom of the 7th.

Now the Cubs were in business; it was a new ballgame.

Unfortunately it was all downhill from there. Pedro Strop could not hold the lead, and a costly error by Dexter Fowler led to a couple more runs — effectively putting the game out of reach.

Another disappointing loss, but I think Joe Maddon summed it up well after the game:

Time to go get ’em again tonight.

Ben Zobrist a possibility

Citing multiple sources, Gordon Wittenmyer writes that super-utility guy Ben Zobrist will be one of the Cubs’ biggest trade targets this summer.

I was hoping the Cubs could pull off a trade for Zobrist this past offseason, as I figured he’d fit nicely with his former manager Joe Maddon. But Zobrist was shipped off to the A’s instead.

With the A’s getting off to a slow start, and barely having an outside shot at putting together a playoff run (although it’s the A’s, so who really knows), Zobrist could become available.

Will the A’s be willing to pull off another trade with the Cubs after last year’s Jeff Samardzija/Addison Russell trade? I hope so.

Zobrist would dramatically and immediately help the Cubs’ bench, which hasn’t been very good. Although, to be fair, possible contributors such as Tommy La Stella and Mike Olt have been hurt for most of the year. And Arismendy Alcantara — viewed as a Zobrist-type utility guy — looked lost at the plate to start the year and is now at Triple-A.

Wittenmyer says the Cubs also may be looking at relievers Rafael Soriano (currently a free agent and who has decided to change agents) and Oliver Perez to help out the bullpen. Perez, a veteran lefty, is not having a great year with the Diamondbacks so far, but has been pretty solid the past few years.

Return of Sveum

With the Royals visiting Wrigley Field, it means a return for former Cubs manager Dale Sveum, currently the Kansas City hitting coach.

Before yesterday’s game he met the Chicago media and discussed a few different topics. For one, he’d like to see the designated hitter in the National League, writes Bruce Levine.

Sveum obviously has experience in both leagues, so I appreciate his point of view on this topic. And I agree.

With more interleague play in today’s game, it makes sense to have a universal rule. And the DH is never going away, so the best option is to have it in both leagues.

Sveum said he would like to manage again, but sounded as if he wasn’t sure he’d get another opportunity.

“It is something you put on the backburner. It is something I really enjoy doing,” Sveum said. I am not obviously holding my breath. I see how things are going in the game and getting hired (with more hires having sabermetic backgrounds). It is a little different than it was 10 or 15 years ago. I am happy doing this and happy to still have a uniform on. That’s all I care about.”

Other notes

* Pretty excited for the promotion of Carl Edwards Jr. (also known as C.J. Edwards) to Triple-A. Looking forward to hopefully seeing him up with the big-league club sometime this summer.

* Junior Lake got the start in left field yesterday over Chris Coghlan. Joe Maddon had some good things to say about Lake before the game:

I don’t think I share the same enthusiasm for Lake, but I’d love for him to prove me wrong. His approach at the plate does seem to be a bit improved, although it’s not a huge sample size at this point. On Friday, he worked a 0-2 to 4-2 walk — something Maddon really appreciates.

* Probably not surprising considering the lack of sacrifice bunts among Cubs pitchers, but here’s Joe Maddon’s thoughts on the play:


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