Results tagged ‘ Kevin Gregg ’

10/31 Free agent update

With the World Series now complete, the following Cubs players are free agents:

RHP Scott Baker
RHP Kevin Gregg
RHP Matt Guerrier
C Dioner Navarro

The Cubs’ 40-man roster now stands at 34.

Teams have exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents for five days after the completion of the World Series. Baker, Gregg, Guerrier and Navarro will be free to begin negotiations with all 30 teams, starting at 11 p.m. CT on Monday. The Cubs’ quartet are among 147 players who have officially filed for free agency.

9/23 Pirates 2, Cubs 1

For the second straight day, champagne was sprayed at Wrigley Field, and once again, it was on the visitor’s side. One day after the Braves clinched the NL East title, the Cubs watched the Pirates party as they secured their first playoff berth since 1992 with a 2-1 win Monday night.

“It’s a tough one to lose after coming back like that,” said Dale Sveum, whose team tied the game in the eighth on pinch-hitter Donnie Murphy’s RBI single.

Starling Marte smacked a tiebreaking solo home run with two outs in the ninth off Kevin Gregg to lift the Pirates to victory but it took a close play at the plate to clinch it. Marte had entered in the seventh as a defensive replacement in left field, and his at-bat in the ninth was his first of the game. He launched a 2-2 pitch from Gregg into the left-field bleachers. Marte’s last two home runs have come off Gregg in the ninth; he also connected July 7 on a homer that tied the game.

The Cubs tried to answer in the ninth. With one out and one on, Nate Schierholtz reached on a fielder’s choice, and Ryan Sweeney then singled into the gap in right center. Schierholtz was thrown out at home on an 8-3-2 relay.

Schierholtz has played in a World Series, doing so with the Giants in 2010.

“It brought back some memories,” Schierholtz said of watching the Braves, then the Pirates. “That’s why we play this game. It’s pretty exciting being in the postseason and I obviously want to get back there one day.”

Jeff Samardzija, who also knows about championship seasons, having played football at Notre Dame, had talked to Schierholtz after Sunday’s game.

“We mentioned to each other that’s what it’s all about, that’s why you work in the offseason, that’s why you work hard in Spring Training, that’s why you want to get off to a fast start in April and May so you can have those moments,” Samardzija said. “That’s what you want. If you’re just here just to play until next year, that’s not what it’s all about. You have to let it all hang out and you have to play for right now. That’s what we need to do.

“I think we’re getting there,” Samardzija said, “but I think we need to get some things ironed out and get this team mentally in a spot where that’s what we’re shooting for, and we’re not shooting to survive but we’re shooting to win and thrive out there.”

The Pirates needed to beat the Cubs and have the Cardinals beat the Nationals to secure a playoff spot, and the Cards won, 4-3. Samardzija tried to delay having to watch their fun in his career-high 32nd start. He did serve up Neil Walker’s home run on a 1-1 fastball with one out in the first, but that was really the only hard hit ball.

This was his fifth start against the Pirates this season, including Opening Day, when he threw eight shutout innings. That was his only win against Pittsburgh this year.

“They’re aggressive,” Samardzija said. “They’ve seen me a lot and know I throw a lot of fastballs early in the count. You could tell when one was in the zone, they were hacking. I threw a couple cutters early which kept them off balance. It’s the fifth, sixth time I’ve faced them this year. You have to keep adjusting to what you’re doing against them.”

The Cubs dropped to 30-49 at home, and have two games left at Wrigley Field. They’ve never lost 50 games at home in a single season.

– Carrie Muskat

9/21 Theo and Gregg

The Cubs announced Saturday that Theo Epstein accepted Kevin Gregg’s apology, and the right-hander will not be released. Epstein had considered such a move after Gregg criticized management following Friday’s game, which he gave up four runs in the ninth. Gregg was upset that he was no longer going to be the closer in the last week of games. Gregg later apologized Friday, and walked up to the press box to make sure the media knew.

– Carrie Muskat

9/20 Gregg and the Cubs

First it was Edwin Jackson vs. Dale Sveum, then Jeff Samardzija vs. David Bell. On Friday, it was Kevin Gregg against Theo Epstein. The Cubs have eight games remaining, and now they’re arguing over who is the closer.

The Braves beat the Cubs, 9-5, on Friday and moved closer to clinching the NL East. Gregg gave up four runs in the ninth and took the loss. After the game, the right-hander said he was upset at being told this week that he was no longer the closer.

“For an organization to just come out and say, ‘Hey, we’re going to go in a different direction …’ You know, professional courtesy would’ve been nice,” Gregg said after the game in the clubhouse.

Sveum gave Gregg the news, but the pitcher said he felt the decision came from Epstein.

“[Friday's game] didn’t unfold like I wanted, but I probably tried a little too hard,” Gregg said. “What they told me over the last couple of days makes it difficult to play this game anyway … let alone knowing what they think. That shows they are not that interested in me coming back here. I will worry about next year next year. But it gives me a good indication of their thoughts going forward.”

Epstein was angry when he heard Gregg’s comments, and went up to the press box to meet with the media.

“Apparently, Kevin misunderstood Dale and thought he was having his job permanently taken away, despite getting the ball in the closer’s role the last couple of days,” Epstein said. “He apparently had some choice words. … Upon hearing that, I called him up to Dale’s office to tell him how disappointed I was with him, given the way we’ve treated him this year. You know, briging him back … and showing faith in him and the great job he has done for us this year. It took him a couple minutes to understand he misunderstood Dale and he apologized to me and to Dale. I told him I would sleep on it and decide whether we would have any disciplinary action … let him know if he was released [Saturday] morning.”

Gregg then came up to the press box to talk.

“In the conversation I was having with Dale [in Milwaukee], I didn’t understand exactly what he was saying,” Gregg said. “Unfortunately for myself, it kind of got under my skin.

“Now that I have sat down with Theo and Dale again, they clarified things and I was able to cool off a little bit. It helped to be able to talk to them and see what they actually are thinking. They want to get a look at Pedro, but they are not going to take anything from me, either. They wanted to work together to see what the future holds for the organization with him and myself. I am OK with that. I like that idea.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/19 Strop to close

Kevin Gregg has saved the Cubs this season, stepping in to notch his third career 30-save season. But the Cubs have decided to look ahead, and will use right-hander Pedro Strop in save situations in the final games. Strop, acquired from the Orioles in the Scott Feldman trade, was 0-for-3 in save opportunities this season, and has 15 holds.

“I’ll try to get him an opportunity,” manager Dale Sveum said Thursday of Strop.

The switch is not a reflection on Gregg’s performance. The right-hander was 32-for-37 in save situations. But Gregg will be a free agent after this season. Strop will be entering his first arbitration year.

“Kevin’s done far and above the call of duty,” Sveum said. “He’s done one heck of a job. It’s going to be an opportunity [for Strop]. We want to see what he does in that role. Kevin has been one of the better closers in all of baseball. God knows where we’d be without him.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/17 Bullpen, Baez and more

* The Cubs head into the 2014 season without a closer but Theo Epstein feels the team may have that pitcher on the roster now. Kevin Gregg, whom the Cubs signed to a Minor League deal in mid April after he was released by the Dodgers, has stepped in and posted his third career 30-save season. The Cubs began the season with Carlos Marmol as the closer, and he was replaced by Kyuji Fujikawa, until he needed Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

“I’m a believer that closers come from a lot of different places,” said Epstein, president of baseball operations. “You find a guy with some swing and miss stuff and some courage and effectiveness earlier in the game, you should try him in the ninth inning because he has enough balls and enough stuff that he can handle the ninth inning.”

Gregg will be a free agent, and could return next year. The other options include Pedro Strop, acquired from the Orioles in the Scott Feldman deal, and possibly Justin Grimm.

“The bigger story for me is that we started out the year with a bullpen that didn’t perform well and that’s our fault,” Epstein said, pointing the finger at the front office. “I think over the course of the year, it really steadily improved. The pitchers deserve a lot of credit.”

* Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson were on the Cubs’ big league roster last season at this time but this year was a difficult season for the first-round picks. Epstein said Vitters, who was the No. 1 pick in 2007, will be converted to an outfielder this offseason.

“We’re converting him to left field,” Epstein said. “He’s going to come to Spring Training ready to re-establish himself and force himself into the mix as one of our right-handed hitting outfielders.”

Jackson, the Cubs’ first-round pick in 2009, battled injuries this season and ended on Double-A Tennessee’s roster. Epstein said Jackson may follow the same program as Vitters this offseason.

* Javier Baez, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in 2011, was named the Minor League Player of the Year after an impressive season. Fans want to know when Baez will be in the big leagues.

“He’s got all the ability that he needs to play Major League shortstop, not that he’s not still developing,” Epstein said. “We have a shortstop now [in Starlin Castro]. If we’re fortunate to get to that point in time where Baez is pounding on that door and Castro is healthy, then we will look to move Baez around so he can perform at other positions. I think he has a lot going for him, that he can do that. For a young kid, he has tremendous baseball instincts.”

Epstein also said Albert Almora, the Cubs’ 2012 first-round pick who was sidelined with a groin injury, is healthy and preparing for the Arizona Fall League. Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler, bothered by a stress fracture of his tibia, was doing baseball activities as well, and preparing for the AFL.

– Carrie Muskat

9/10 Monday: Cubs 2, Reds 0

Travis Wood scattered six hits over seven scoreless innings and Luis Valbuena and Ryan Sweeney each homered to lift the Cubs to a 2-0 victory over the Reds Monday in Cincinnati. Wood improved to 9-11, and finally beat his former team in his fifth start against the Reds. It was Sweeney’s sixth home run, which matches his single-season high, also set in 2009 with the Athletics. Valbuena’s blast was his career-high 11th, topping his previous best of 10 set in 2009 with the Indians. Kevin Gregg picked up his 31st save. Edwin Jackson faces lefty Tony Cingrani at Great American Ball Park in the second game of this three-game series.

9/7 Extra bases

* The Cubs look to win three-straight for the first time since sweeping the Giants in San Francisco, July 26-28. They also are trying to win three-straight games in a single homestand for the first time since May 29-31 vs. the White Sox (2-0) and Diamondbacks (1-0).

* With Justin Grimm’s season debut Friday, the Cubs have utilized 53 players, tying the franchise single-season record done a season ago. Still looking to make their season debuts are catcher J.C. Boscan and pitchers Daniel Bard and Chang-Yong Lim.

* The Cubs rank second in the Majors with 95 home runs at home. The Orioles lead MLB, having hit 100 at Camden Yards. The Cubs’ 95 home runs at Wrigley are their most at home since hitting 106 in 2008.

9/6 Cubs 8, Brewers 5

Junior Lake hit his first career grand slam and Chris Rusin added a two-run single to spark the Cubs to an 8-5 win Friday over the Brewers, and move into a tie for last in the National League Central. The Brewers lead the Cubs in the season series, 8-5, but both teams have 60-80 records.

Lake added a bunt single in the third and now has 55 hits in his first 45 games, tops among Major League rookies in that stretch. Kevin Gregg pitched the ninth for his 30th save, the third time he has reached that milestone in his career.

The Cubs batted around in a five-run first against Kyle Lohse. With one out, the first three batters each singled, with a run scoring on Nate Schierholtz hit. Ryan Sweeney then walked to load the bases, and one out later, Lake drove a 1-0 pitch from Lohse into the bleachers in left center. It was Lake’s fifth home run of the season, and the Cubs’ third grand slam this year. Chicago now has hit 95 home runs at Wrigley Field, the most at home in the Major Leagues. The Orioles are second, hitting 94 at Camden Yards entering Friday’s game.

Norichika Aoki hit a sacrifice fly in the Milwaukee second, and Aramis Ramirez, who played for the Cubs from 2003-11, hit his 127th home run at Wrigley, and 10th overall this year, with one out in the third to close to 5-2 in the third.

Chicago loaded the bases again with one out in the third, keyed by Lake’s bunt single, and Rusin smacked a two-run single to center for a 7-2 lead. Cubs pitchers now have 27 RBIs, most in the Major Leagues.

Rusin needed 32 pitches to get through the first, and was pulled after throwing 85 over 3 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits. Carlos Villanueva picked up the win in 2 1/3 innings in relief.

The Cubs have won four of their last six games.

– Carrie Muskat

8/10 Cubs 6, Cardinals 5

Manager Dale Sveum only needed to see two things from Dioner Navarro on Saturday to know whether his backup catcher and top bench player was able to play three days after being carted off the field.

“Just walk and squat,” Sveum said of the requirements. “One time was fine enough.”

Navarro also was ready to hit. Darwin Barney smacked a game-tying two-run double in the eighth and Navarro followed with a pinch-hit RBI double to lift the Cubs to a motivated 6-5 victory over the Cardinals.

Nate Schierholtz delivered a RBI single in the ninth, which turned out to be much needed as Matt Holliday hit his second home run of the game in the St. Louis ninth off Kevin Gregg. Welington Castillo hit a solo home run and sacrifice fly for the Cubs, who came into this series with a few more incentives than past matchups. Adam Wainwright was originally scheduled to start Saturday but was skipped so he could be ready for St. Louis’ upcoming series against Pittsburgh. The Cubs felt snubbed.

“If you look at it from their point of view, you don’t really try to take offense to that kind of stuff,” Barney said. “Obviously, we knew what happened, and it wasn’t not talked about, I’ll say that. That young kid [Michael Wacha] threw well today and he has good stuff. It’s not like they were throwing a nobody against us. It’s one of those things.”

Wacha, making his fourth big league start, served up Castillo’s home run leading off the Chicago second. Holliday belted a three-run homer off Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva with one out in the fourth to go ahead, 3-1. Castillo added a sacrifice fly in the fifth but Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran hit back to back doubles in the sixth to take a 4-2 lead.

In the eighth, Trevor Rosenthal walked Castillo and Schierholtz, then struck out the next two batters. Barney, batting .211, then lined a double to right to drive in both and tie the game.

“People are always, ‘Why don’t you pinch-hit for Barney?’” Sveum said. “It’s because he’s the one guy who is going to battle and put the ball in play and do baseball player-type things.”

Navarro arrived in St. Louis about five hours before game time. He injured his right ankle in a collision at home plate on Wednesday in Philadelphia with Chase Utley, and had gone to Chicago to be examined. Prior to the game, Navarro had to do some agility drills — as well as walk and squat — and was pronounced fit. He didn’t take batting practice but it didn’t seem to matter as he lined a 97 mph fastball from Rosenthal to right.

“He gets here today,” Barney said, “and he hadn’t taken a swing, he didn’t take batting practice, and he’s one of those guys who’s a gamer. Turn on 98 [mph] like that after not seeing a pitch in three days is pretty unbelievable.”

Blake Parker picked up his first Major League win in relief, and Gregg hung on for his 25th save, and survived David Freese’s liner off his right shoulder.

With the win, the Cubs notched their first series victory at Busch Stadium since sweeping the Cardinals in a three-game set, Sept. 13-15, 2010. The two teams square off next weekend at Wrigley Field. Wainwright’s next start, by the way, is Tuesday against the Pirates.

– Carrie Muskat

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