PITTSBURGH - Dale Sveum finally has the chance to run his own show as a major league manager.
He could use a better cast, though.
The Chicago Cubs head into today's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park with a 15-31 record, worst in the National League and better than only the Minnesota Twins in Major League Baseball.
Sveum's team is looking to break a losing streak that stretched to 11 games with Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Pirates.
"You got to remember, 10 days ago we were playing pretty good," Sveum said. "I wouldn't say we were scoring tons of runs, but we were playing good and had a nice three-week stretch of over .500 baseball."
Much like the Pirates, the Cubs' biggest problem has been generating offense.
The Cubs are a team in transition with a completely new administration. Theo Epstein moved over from the Boston Red Sox to replace Jim Hendry as general manager. Epstein then hired Sveum to replace Mike Quade.
The Cubs have also been overhauling their team. High-profile players like Carlos Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez, Marlon Byrd, Kosuke Fukudome and Kerry Wood have moved on as the Cubs rebuild.
As the losses pile up, Sveum says he's avoided calling a clubhouse meeting.
"Those are usually more about effort," he said. "The effort has been fine."
Sveum started building toward a managerial career in his final seasons as a player.
"I think your last five years, when you know that day is coming, you start paying attention knowing it's something you want to do, no doubt," Sveum said.
Sveum was with the New York Yankees in 1998 when they released him in August. By mutual agreement, he stayed with the team as a bullpen catcher.
The following spring, he returned to the Pirates as a utility player. Then in 2000, Sveum was released on the last day of spring training.
Manager Gene Lamont asked the front office to keep Sveum on the club in a non-playing role.
"I was kind of an unofficial coach that season," he said.
The following season, he started his two-year run as manager of the Curve. He still has fond memories of his time in Altoona.
"It was a great place to manage," he said. "We had a great facility and a great league where it was kind of centralized and the travel wasn't bad. Chuck Greenberg was a great owner. It was a lot of fun."
Managing the Cubs in tough times probably doesn't qualify as fun, but Sveum says he's able to leave the games at the park.
"You take care of things at the ballpark and that's it," he said. "There are certain things you dwell on sometimes, lineup changes and that kind of stuff. But otherwise, it's not that big a deal."
Sveum shook up the Cubs lineup on Friday, shuffling players into different positions. He smiled at a suggestion that maybe choosing a random lineup would help change the team's results.
"Not too far," he said. "You never know."
Sveum's first taste of major league managing came at the end of the 2008 season when he handled the Milwaukee Brewers for their final 12 games and the playoffs. The Brewers opted to hire Ken Macha the next year and Sveum went back to being a coach.
He got the Chicago job last Nov. 17.
The Cubs are clearly a work in progress. They had a scheduled off day on Thursday between Houston and Pittsburgh. Sveum went home to Arizona for his son's high school graduation.
Then he rejoined the team and again took on the challenge of making the Cubs better.
"I was on a team (1987 Milwaukee Brewers) that had a 12-game losing streak, then finished 20 games over .500," Sveum said. "Every team is going to have a losing streak somewhere along the way."