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Professional

MLB: Sveum, Cubs ready to spring forward

MESA, Ariz. – Cubs manager Dale Sveum has no intention of rehashing last season or even mentioning the 101 losses.

Sveum wants to focus on a clean slate. Finishing the 2013 season at .500, while it would look nice on paper, won’t lead any in the Cubs organization to declare the year a success.

“The only way to always dictate a season is if you get to the playoffs,” manager Dale Sveum said.

Sveum, general manager Jed Hoyer and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein met with the media ahead of Monday’s informal workouts and emphasized the necessary stages during rebuilding.

“We’re being open and transparent with our fans about what we’re trying to accomplish, that we’re not going to take any shortcuts,” Epstein said. “It’s a bit of a covenant, where we ask for their patience and ask them to get behind the young players who come up to the big leagues. … In return we promise to work our tails off, the entire organization from top to bottom so that we can build something truly special.”

Sveum said seven pitchers will be competing for five spots in the starting rotation. Realistically, four pitchers – Scott Feldman, Scott Baker, Travis Wood and Carlos Villanueva – will be battling for the No. 4 and 5 spots.

Combined with the continued improvement from Starlin Castro and a full year with Anthony Rizzo in the lineup, the Cubs believe there will be notable improvement on the field.

A healthy Ian Stewart is going to get every opportunity to win the third base job, Epstein said, and production is what will determine if he gets to start. The Cubs are confident they also addressed creating a more balanced lineup. They plan to use a platoon in the outfield to get as many lefties in the lineup as possible.

“Losses are very difficult, but our goal is something much bigger and sometimes you know that there’s going to be a little bit of short-term pain to have a long-term perspective,” Hoyer said. “ … We want to reverse that record completely. It can be hard. It can wear on you.”

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