MIAMI -- Last weekend while in Milwaukee, Cubs manager Dale Sveum was not shy around reporters about letting his team know that it has to play better ball.
He went as far as threatening to demote current big leaguers, regardless of their stature on the team, if they didn't get their act together.
"If people keep playing like that, you have to find options," Sveum said last weekend. "Give people playing time at Triple-A to figure this stuff out."
Despite Sunday's loss to the Marlins, Chicago's players seem to have gotten the point.
After being swept by Milwaukee and dropping the first game at Cincinnati, Chicago finished the road trip winning four of its last six, including three in a row in Miami.
On top of the pitching staff keeping opponents off the scoreboard, the offense has come together as well. Anthony Rizzo went 5-for-13 with two home runs, a double and five RBIs in the four-game set with the Marlins, and David DeJesus is hitting .358 in his last 16 games. That's without mentioning Starlin Castro and Luis Valbuena, who have come up with clutch hits during the Cubs' four recent wins.
Not all players put much thought into what Sveum had to say, like Carlos Villanueva, who started and took the loss Sunday against the Marlins.
"I didn't. The manager has his job. He feels he has to say something, then he'll say it, and it's our job to listen," Villanueva said. "Some guys ... their minds work different. For me, I know the job I have to make, and I do my best not to get anybody to yell at me because I don't like that. I think I'm old enough to know what I have to do.
"Certain messages are directed to certain players, and I guess whoever has to take that message will take it and the other guys will just keep doing their jobs. We have younger guys, and the younger guys sometimes need a little wakeup call. I think we police ourselves, and I think we have a good clubhouse here and I know that we're going to be all right."
David Furones is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.