Focus On: Watch out for the mailbox

My first question to Franklin Font after a rain-soaked 12-7 loss to the Tri-City Dust Devils on Sunday was definitely rooted in my own selfish desires.

“So…do you wish the game had been called in the 7th?”

Hell, I would have taken the fifth, the sixth or the seventh. And I’m sure, since his team left each of those innings with a lead, he would have rather had that situation too.

The Dust Devils scored nine runs in the final two frames, erasing what had been a spectacular five-inning pitching performance by Robert Hernandez, who allowed one earned run in his time on the mound.

Obviously minor league ball is played by different rules when it comes to pulling a pitcher. But, why not leave Hernandez in for six or seven if he’s dominating?

“You’re dealing with a young arm,” Font said. “This is a young staff. You have to keep development in your mind. It would have been good to leave him in for two more. But he’s 20 years old.”

Predictable answer, and a legitimate one. Font doesn’t make those decisions himself. They’re passed down by the big league club in Chicago.

But even if they had left Hernandez in for seven, the nine runs in the eighth and ninth came from two pitchers (Mike Perconte and Yohan Gonzalez).

Is there a rule that says you have to leave a guy on the mound if he’s looking like Rick Ankiel from the 2000 playoffs?

“It’s definitely frustrating to see that,” pitching coach David Rosario said. “But it still comes back to development for them too. Part of development is about confidence and trusting yourself when things start going wrong.”

Rosario then gave me the solution to the struggles on the mound. 

“You have to focus on your plan. You just hope it starts going to your side. You have to let your defense handle it. But if you start to force things, then suddenly everything starts to help the other side score.”

I didn’t ask him, but I assumed “helping the other side score” isn’t something the Cubs want involved with their property’s “development”.

What Rosario was telling me is that the Chicago Cubs organization is using the same method of development as my dad used when he taught me to ride a bike.

Let them go by themselves for a while, scrape their knees, hit some mailboxes, and hope they eventually find their balance.

Hopefully for Mike Perconte and Yohan Gonzalez, that confidence will come before they get to an intersection.


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