Results tagged ‘ Esmailin Caridad ’

3/20 Down to the wire

Justin Berg not only won the Cubs Idol competition on Saturday but also appears to have locked up a spot in the bullpen. Lou Piniella said there are four pitchers competing for one spot and that group includes John Gaub, James Russell, Marcus Mateo and Mike Parisi. When asked about Berg, Piniella said: “Berg is in. Berg has done a nice job.”

That means the ‘pen now consists of closer Carlos Marmol, John Grabow, Esmailin Caridad, Berg, and two of the four pitchers who don’t make the rotation. That list includes Carlos Silva, Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorzelanny and Sean Marshall.

“I like the arms we have and I like the mix we have,” Piniella said.

Piniella said they have an idea as to which way they’re leaning but won’t announce anything yet. The staff will sit down after Monday’s game to discuss the roster.

As for the bench, that’s still to be decided. Andres Blanco has been out with an injury, which hasn’t helped his chances. “I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen there,” Piniella said.

They’d like to keep an outfielder who can play all three spots, especially because Xavier Nady is limited. And they like both Chad Tracy and Kevin Millar.

“There’s a lot to say about a veteran’s contribution and leadership from your bench players,” Piniella said. “There’s some nice subtle important decisions to make here over the next four, five days.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/19 Sorting out the bullpen

Realistically, there’s one opening remaining in the Cubs’ bullpen. The pitchers set include closer Carlos Marmol, lefty John Grabow and right-hander Esmailin Caridad. Two other spots will be taken by the pitchers who don’t make the rotation. That group includes Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Silva, Tom Gorzelanny and Sean Marshall.

Lefty John Gaub is candidate for the ‘pen but didn’t help himself Thursday when he gave up three runs on four hits in one inning against the Dodgers.

“We’ve got, realistically, one spot in that bullpen and I think every appearance now is important for these kids,” Lou Piniella said Friday. “We have some definite ideas on what young kids have done enough to pitch here already.”

One name being given strong consideration is right-hander Justin Berg, who has given up one hit and one run, a solo homer, in five innings over five games. The others still in camp include James Russell and Rule 5 pick Michael Parisi.

— Carrie Muskat

3/18 Penmanship

Jeff Gray, slowed by a strained groin, threw three “batting practice” innings on Thursday and his next step will be a simulated game. However, the right-hander is running out of time to make the Cubs’ Opening Day roster.

The Cubs will be leaning on lefty John Grabow to be the primary set-up pitcher. Lou Piniella would like at least one other person to handle those duties.

“If we can find a couple pitchers here to complement him, it would behoove us,” Piniella said. “The two kids we have right now would either be [Esmailin] Caridad or [Justin] Berg. Then we have to see what we do rotation-wise, and maybe somebody from the rotation falls into that category, too.”

Will Piniella use Grabow the way he used Marmol last year?

“Yes,” Piniella said, then paused. It would depend on the situation

“We want another pitcher or two who we can lean on in that role,” Piniella said. “We just don’t want one person specifically. Remember, with Marmol last year, he has that devastating slider and we’d use him sometimes in the seventh to get out of an inning and sometimes start the eighth.”

— Carrie Muskat


3/8 Rain, rain go away

The Cubs had 10 pitchers each throw one inning of a simulated game in Mesa on Monday to make up for Sunday’s lost split squad games. Lou Piniella met with pitching coach Larry Rothschild to discuss the roster. There are five or six kids whom Rothschild feels can compete for a job in the bullpen.

“They all have good arms or they wouldn’t be here,” Piniella said. “They all have ability. You have to find out about the experience factor and how they respond. That’s why these Spring Training games are so important and not only for us but for a few of these guys. There are some spots here.”

The only relievers who appear to be set are Carlos Marmol, John Grabow and Esmailin Caridad. Two of the starter candidates who don’t get a spot in the rotation could slide into the bullpen. That foursome includes Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzelanny and Carlos Silva. All but Silva were pitching Monday.

“I’ve been pleased with Marshall,” Piniella said. “I know Samardzija has thrown well in his drills. So has Gorzelanny. Silva struggled some the other day. We’ll see what happens. We’ll run them out there and let them pitch.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/5 Guzman, Gray doubtful for Opening Day

The Cubs may have more openings in their bullpen than they originally thought. Angel Guzman was to undergo an MRI on his right shoulder Friday. He’s not expected to be ready Opening Day. Guzman has been slowed because of discomfort in his shoulder. Jeff Gray also has been held back because of a lingering groin strain.

“Gray, he still feels it when he throws,” Lou Piniella said Friday. “We’re being precautious with him. I thought that by now we could have him throwing off the mound. He’s a little bit away yet.”

Guzman was projected as a possible right-handed set-up option for the Cubs. He hasn’t been close to throwing off a mound. Could he be ready by Opening Day?

“Not at all,” Piniella said. “Gray is starting to get on the ‘doubtful’ list — not doubtful, let’s call it the ‘borderline’ list.”

The leading candidate for the set-up job is Esmailin Caridad but GM Jim Hendry is looking.

“We’re doing no different than we always do,” Hendry said. “If there’s [a trade] to be made, we will.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/25 Pitching notes: Big Z likely Opening Day starter

Carlos Zambrano will likely be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter for the sixth straight year.

“We haven’t even gone there yet,” Lou Piniella said when asked if he’d named his starter for the April 5 season opener in Atlanta. “I’ve been here three years and Zambrano has been the Opening Day starter every year. I don’t anticipate any difference there.”

Some other pitching updates:

* Angel Guzman was shutdown because of some discomfort in his right shoulder. Guzman underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in January and already was a couple weeks behind the others. He still could be ready by Opening Day.

“We just felt that coming off the ‘scope and because he’s had difficulties on and off in the past, that we’ll take the precautionary route and push him back a couple days,” GM Jim Hendry said.

* Ted Lilly remained at home for the fourth straight day because of a high fever. Athletic trainer Mark O’Neal planned on visiting Lilly at his home to get an update. They hope the lefty can come to Fitch Park on Friday to play catch.

* One pitcher who appears to have secured a spot in the bullpen is Esmailin Caridad.

“He’s on the team,” Piniella said. “He’s almost got to pitch himself off it. I don’t think he will. I like this young man. He competes, he’s got a good arm, he can pitch a lot. He handled himself here quite well the last two months of the season.”

Caridad appeared in 14 games with the Cubs late last season and gave up three earned runs over 19 1/3 innings for a 1.40 ERA. He’s not experienced — last year was his first at Triple-A. Could he be the right-handed set-up pitcher the Cubs need?

“He’s got the stuff for it,” Piniella said. “Does he have the experience, savvy? We’ll have to wait and see. He does have the stuff. One good thing about this young man is he’s not scared.”

* Another pitcher who has impressed the coaching staff this spring is Jeff Samardzija. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild told Piniella that the first couple years, Samardzija looked like a football player who was pitching. Rothschild said this year, the right-hander looks like a baseball player who played football.

“That’s a big transformation and that’s a really profound statement as far as I’m concerned,” Piniella said. “It says he’s making the adjustments and really stepping forward and looking like a Major League pitcher.”

Samardzija’s mechanics are better.

“He’s throwing the ball smoother, with less effort and his mechanics have approved,” Piniella said. “He looks like a Major League pitcher on the mound. He’s got natural talent. It’s just a question of refining it. We’re going to let this guy pitch and around the 20th of March, we’ll see exactly where he’s at.”

* Jeff Gray, sidelined with a sore groin, did throw on flat ground Thursday. He was not expected to throw off a mound until next week when the team moves to HoHoKam Park fo the start of games.

— Carrie Muskat

9/18 Cubs Inbox

Am trying to revive the Inbox, and fans are encouraged to email questions to, and please include your full name and hometown. Here are some questions to get started.

Q: In the Sept. 13 game, the box score read “25 LOB” for the Cubs. Aside from the fact that it would break the MLB record by five, how is it possible if the Cubs only had eight offensive frames? Is there an error in the score keeping? — Jonathan M., 512 area code

A: No, you’re looking at “individual LOB.” For example, if you look at Kosuke Fukudome’s line, it says “6 LOB” and that means he stranded six baserunners. If you look further down in the box score under “BATTING,” you’ll see the “Team LOB,” which was nine. It’s confusing, I don’t like it, no one uses it, but it’s there.

Q: Randy Wells has pitched a total of 147 innings between Iowa and the Cubs. Last year, he pitched a total of 123. Many think a pitcher should not increase his innings count from one year to the next by more than 20 percent in order to prevent injury. In Wells’ case, this means he should be shutdown after 147 innings. With 139 under his belt, it looks like he should be shut down now or after, at most, one more start. Any idea whether the Cubs will follow this precept? — Candace S.

A: After Thursday’s game, in which Wells lasted four innings, Lou Piniella said the rookie was being considered for a breather. The trouble is, at this point in the season, the Cubs don’t have that many subs. Piniella wanted to give Esmailin Caridad a start but With Angel Guzman (triceps) out, they are a little short-handed as far as starters go.

— Carrie Muskat