Cubs have much to play for down stretch

Cubs have much to play for down stretch

Cubs have much to play for down stretch
CINCINNATI -- It's easy to take the field each day with a positive attitude and max effort when the playoffs are just around the corner and a division crown is within reach.

But it's a different story for a club sitting 20-plus games below .500 during a rebuilding year.

So what do the Cubs use as their motivation each day?

"This is my job," said Alfonso Soriano. "I have to keep playing hard every day. I think of it as the first game of the season, not think about it like we're out or we have a bad record. I think about it as one game at a time and this is the first game of the season."

It's this type of mentality that has kept the Cubs going lately, in addition, of course, to the fact that a bright future may be in store for the organization, with the possible contract extensions of younger talents who are beginning to make names for themselves.

"I think it can be a big relief to players to just go out and play and not have to worry about an arbitration year, a platform year," said Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. "Knowing they're going to be part of the leadership of the club for a long time, it can relax them and reinforce the leadership qualities and being the type of players you want others to look up to as a role model."

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said the rough patches of the season bring out the true character of the players. He added that the club assesses the intangibles of the team just as much as the numbers the players put up on the diamond.

"This time of year, you're not only evaluating their talent and ability to play in the big leagues, but you're evaluating their character and what they're bringing to the table every day when things aren't going well, and the adversities of the Major League game itself," Sveum said. "You're definitely evaluating the character of people as much as their play."