CHICAGO -- Last season, the Cubs ranked last in the National League with runners in scoring position, and this year, they're 14th. It's an area manager Rick Renteria is working on improving.
"Everybody tries to heighten their ability to do something, and it's actually counterproductive," Renteria said Saturday. "The anxiousness and the stress that comes with trying to be the guy in that particular moment takes you away from opportunities you might otherwise have.
"If you look across the board with numbers, two-out hitting across the league with runners in scoring position is not very high. Most of it is just anxiousness, and it's trying to get these guys to take those experiences that they're having and try to tone it down, slow themselves down and continue to improve on what they need to get better."
The Cubs were batting .201 with runners in scoring position entering Saturday, and .183 with RISP with two outs. The Giants lead the league in the latter category, batting .282. Last year, the Cardinals led the Majors with a .305 batting average with RISP with two outs, and the Dodgers were second at .247. The Cubs ranked 12th at .209.
The only way to eliminate the anxiety, Renteria said, is more experience in those situations.
"I think, more than anything, when guys are put in positions, it's about focusing on simply seeing the baseball in the hitting area," Renteria said. "There are a lot of thoughts and things that go through hitters' minds: 'I want to drive this guy in, I want to hit a ground ball.' You've got to eliminate all those things and simplify it and stay in the zone."
Emilio Bonifacio leads the Cubs with a .308 average with RISP, followed by Anthony Rizzo at .258 and Welington Castillo at .250.
Renteria knows players can be anxious.
"It's just a matter of being able to manage that high energy," Renteria said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.