CHICAGO -- Nate Schierholtz has exceeded expectations in his first season with the Cubs.
The right fielder, who has finally gotten regular playing time, has set career highs in hits, doubles, home runs and RBIs.
"He's that guy you dream of as a manager," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Monday. "You don't have to worry about him, you don't have to worry about him playing hard. He's played with some nagging stuff. He's picked us up and had a really nice year."
Schierholtz, 29, had never reached double digits in home runs in a season, but has 21 in 131 games this year.
"We thought if he could get that many plate appearances, he could hit 15 to 25 home runs and do some things with the bat," Sveum said. "He's played a really nice right field. He's done more than what we expected."
Sveum seeks strong finish from struggling players
CHICAGO -- With six games remaining, Cubs manager Dale Sveum is hoping players who have struggled this year can finish on a positive note.
"You want guys producing," Sveum said. "We're going to see really good pitching here in the next six days. You feel bad for guys who've had poor years and you'd like to see them -- because it's been so stressed in the media -- you'd like to see six days of something special out of [Starlin] Castro and [Darwin] Barney and [Anthony] Rizzo and the guys we're evaluating for next year to put a good taste in their mouth for the winter."
Castro entered Monday's game against the Pirates batting .241, well below the .297 average he compiled in his first three seasons. Barney was batting .209, while Rizzo was hitting .231, but led the team with 22 home runs and 77 RBIs.
Sveum will meet with each player one on one for the end of the season wrapup, although it has yet to be determined if they'll do those sessions during the final homestand, which ends Wednesday, or this weekend in St. Louis.
Sveum did see positive signs with the bullpen heading into 2014 with the performances of pitchers such as Hector Rondon, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop and Carlos Villanueva.
"We obviously have some pieces we have control over," Sveum said. "The bullpen going into next year will be a lot more solidified than it has the last two years."
• Catcher Welington Castillo had successful arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Monday to repair a partial meniscus tear. Castillo, who was the regular catcher for the first time in his career, will need four to six weeks to rehab, and is expected to be 100 percent by Spring Training.
• Including Monday's game, the Cubs have six games remaining against National League Central opponents, the Pirates and Cardinals, which will be tough. Chicago is 24-46 against teams in its division, the second-lowest winning percentage by any team against its own division. The Cubs finished 41-45 against teams outside their division.
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.